The Department of Wood Science in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada has collaborated with INBAR’s partner the International Centre for Bamboo and Rattan (ICBR) and Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University (ZAFU) to launch a dedicated bamboo research group, the first of its kind to be established in North America.
Bamboo, a fast-growing plant belonging to the grass family, can be an important nature-based solution to a number of pressing global challenges, including poverty alleviation, green trade, climate change mitigation, resilient construction and environmental protection. It is strong, versatile and can be harvested many times without killing the plant, making it an ideal material for inclusion in a circular economy. Many people in bamboo-producing regions of the developing world have relied on this key non-timber forest product as a source of energy, food and livelihood for centuries, but outside of these communities bamboo has often been overlooked as a “poor man’s timber” with little use beyond low-value construction or simple products.
In recent years, as awareness of the need to transition to low-carbon and sustainable materials grows, so has interest in publishing academic research about bamboo. The first research group dedicated to multidisciplinary research into bamboo has launched as part of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Headed by Professor Chunping Dai, the research group will collaborate with industrial and academic key partners across the world, including INBAR partners ICBR and ZAFU. This strong global network will ensure an international focus on high quality research into the structural properties, industrial applications and innovative uses of bamboo as well as its social, environmental and cultural potential.
Professor John Innes, Dean of the Faculty of Forestry at UBC, said that:
“I am delighted to see the creation of this group. Bamboo is a vitally important non-timber forest product, and while its value has been recognised for centuries, it is only today that we are beginning to realise how some of its properties can best be utilised. I look forward to seeing how this research develops, as I am certain that it will be extremely successful.”
Preliminary areas of research include round pole bamboo construction, laminated bamboo composites, and sustainable bamboo management. The multidisciplinary nature of the group will provide scope for wide ranging research into the many potential applications of this plant and an opportunity to expand the global knowledge base.
Canada is a founding Member State of INBAR and the only INBAR Member State to be primarily a consumer instead of a producer of bamboo products. The country is thus well located to become a hub for academic research into a wide range of subjects related to bamboo. The launch of this group represents an important step towards achieving that goal.