How to assess bamboo forest carbon
A new INBAR manual aims to help countries calculate the climate mitigation potential of their native bamboo.
4 June – Nature-based solutions to climate change are gaining ground. Sixty-five per cent of all signatories to the UN Paris Agreement on climate change have already committed to restoring or conserving ecosystems. Around the world, there is increased recognition of the importance of restoring or conserving forests and ecosystems in the fight against climate change.
Fast growing, with a high rate of carbon storage and a spread of 30 million hectares across the tropics and subtropics, bamboo could be an important part of countries’ nature-based toolkit for climate change mitigation. According to a recent analysis by non-profit organisation Project Drawdown, if the world planted an additional 15 million hectares of bamboo on degraded lands, bamboo plants and their products could save over 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide within 30 years, or more than 300 million new electric cars could save in the same time period.
While there are many international guidelines for forest carbon assessment, which provide specific details for measuring trees, very little information exists on measuring the carbon sequestration potential of bamboo. This is a critical knowledge gap. Understanding the dynamics of the carbon cycle in the bamboo forest ecosystem is critically important for helping us make the best use of bamboo for climate change mitigation and economic development.
A manual has been developed to provide clear instructions for technical staff who conduct bamboo forest inventories and bamboo carbon assessments. The Manual for Bamboo Forest Biomass and Carbon Assessment was written as part of the Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan for green development (GABAR), an INBAR initiative which aims to improve the state of knowledge about these plants and their role in sustainable development.
In May and June, INBAR staff used the manual to help train participants in Cameroon and Ghana, as part of workshops on bamboo stock and carbon assessment. The workshops took place in Yaoundé and Kumasi for 34 and 32 participants respectively, including trainees from government ministries, non-profit organisations or research institutes. The workshops aimed to provide an overview of bamboo stock and carbon estimation methodology, introduce various methods for data collection, and use these tools as a basis to calculate bamboo stock, biomass and carbon sequestration in bamboo forest pools.
At a global level, the new manual should make an important contribution to understanding how bamboo forests can contribute to climate change mitigation. This is particularly relevant in the context of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s upcoming 2020 Forest Resource Assessment, which will include information on bamboo’s spread and carbon stock, using data collected from national agencies around the world. By building capacity to understand and measure bamboo’s carbon storage among INBAR’s 45 Member States, GABAR aims to improve the state of knowledge about bamboo’s spread and potential.
Find out more about the Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan for green development here.
The Manual for Bamboo Forest Biomass and Carbon Assessment can be read here.