“Our solutions are in nature”
INBAR’s statement on the International Day for Biological Diversity 2020.
22 May 2020 – Our solutions are in nature. In 2020, more than any year, we have the opportunity, and responsibility, to reflect on our relationship with the natural world, and what it gives us.
Biodiversity is the foundation for life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. It underpins peoples’ livelihoods and sustainable development. By halting biodiversity loss, we are investing in people, their lives and their well-being.
If sustainably managed, bamboo, the fast-growing grass plant, and rattan, the spiky climbing palm, can be an important part of biodiversity conservation. Some of the world’s most iconic and endangered species rely on these plants for food and shelter. Bamboo and rattan are also important for landscapes: in their 2019 report, the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) and Center for International Forestry Research, CIFOR, showed how bamboo forests provide important ecosystem services, such as landscape restoration, landslide control, groundwater recharge and water purification. These attributes make bamboo an excellent replacement in plantation forestry, or in degraded lands. Countries across the world are using bamboo to restore degraded land.
Bamboo can help prevent deforestation. Because it grows back fast, and burns well, many countries are using bamboo briquettes as a more sustainable alternative to timber for cooking fuel. This reduces pressure on stressed forest resources, and provides people – many of whom are women – with a source of income.
Finally, bamboo and rattan provide a striking example of how humans can live, and thrive, in harmony with nature. Through careful management, these plants can support rural communities and terrestrial ecosystems alike. For example, in Chishui, part of a World Heritage site in China, local residents are reviving old bamboo crafts as a sustainable alternative to construction, logging and hunting: activities which are now severely restricted. Similarly, sustainably produced rattan helps secure vital habitat for wildlife while improving livelihoods. Because it needs trees to grow, rattan can provide an incentive for communities to conserve and restore the forest on their land, while harvesting the plants for use in furniture- and handicraft-making.
2020 was meant to be a crucial year for the world’s ecosystems. It marks the end of the United Nations’ ‘Decade on Biodiversity’, and, hopefully, the start of even more ambitious plans. Although the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity has been postponed, the critical question – how to live more in harmony with nature – remains more urgent than ever before.
INBAR has worked for over 20 years to integrate nature-based solutions into sustainable development. Through its network of 46 Member States, INBAR shares new research, technologies and applications related to bamboo and rattan, and supports governments to include these plants in their policies and green development plans.
In 2020, INBAR stands ready to continue working with the global community for a new global biodiversity framework, which could finally tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss and create a model for a more relationship with the natural world. INBAR firmly believes that our solutions are in nature.
For more information about bamboo and rattan’s importance to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 15, ‘Life on Land’, read here.
Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, INBAR will join other organisations in marking this day through online-only activities. You can find out more about INBAR’s work during COVID-19 here, and follow our work on social media at @INBAROfficial.