‘Bamboo for Ecosystem Restoration’: INBAR at UNCCD COP 15
INBAR showcased bamboo’s important role in ecosystem restoration at the recent meeting of the United Nations’ Convention to Combat Desertification.
The 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was themed: “Land. Life. Legacy: From Scarcity to Prosperity”. The two-week conference, which took place in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast, attracted government leaders and environmental experts from around the world, and ended with the launch of the USD 2.5-billion Abidjan Legacy Programme, which aims to build sustainable supply chains while tackling deforestation and climate change.
Bamboo can make important contributions to restoring degraded lands and conserving tropical ecosystems. Many African countries are already planting bamboo along their riverbanks, and in the Philippines mining companies are now required to plant bamboo on at least one fifth of their old quarry land. INBAR’s 25 years of involvement in projects – such as the Utthan Foundation’s massive bamboo land restoration initiative in Allahabad, India – have given it a wealth of experience on using bamboo for land restoration and livelihoods support. In 2021, INBAR became a partner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystems Restoration 2021-2030, and continues to share its knowledge and expertise at international fora such as COP 15.
At COP 15, INBAR organised a session on “Bamboo for Ecosystems Restoration and Green Growth”. In his opening remarks, the Deputy Director General of INBAR Professor Lu Wenming told participants that bamboo forests cover at least 35 million hectares of land across Africa, the Asia-Pacific and the Americas, and bamboo is an integral part of forests, cultures and livelihoods for many people.
The session featured five prominent speakers from diverse backgrounds: Dr. Tamirat Teshome, Director General of Ethiopia’s Forest Resources Inventory and Management Plan; Dr. O.P Yadav, Director of the Indian Institute of Soils and Water Conservation; Ms. Claudia Daza, Chair of the INBAR Task Force on Bamboo for Renewable Energy; Mr. Durai Jayaraman, INBAR’s Global Programme Director; and Mr. Rene Kaam, Director of INBAR’s Central Africa Regional Office. Speakers discussed the ways in which bamboo can contribute to land restoration: its ability to grow on low-fertility and sloping soils; its far-reaching rhizome and root system, which binds soil and protects the top layers; its additional ecological benefits, such as permanent canopy cover and thick leaf litter; its ability to raise the water table; its importance as a fast-growing and frequently harvestable source of material and income for local communities; and its additional benefits as an important carbon sink.
Speakers at the session reiterated bamboo’s potential to contribute to global land restoration initiatives like the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration, which aims to restore 350 million hectares under restoration by 2030. However, speakers also made clear that success stories were the result of clear policy support and investment. For other countries to take advantage of their bamboo resources, they would need to create an enabling environment for bamboo sector development, to incentivise the planting and sustainable management of local resources.