International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

INBAR at UNFF 17

13 May 2022

INBAR’s side event promoted awareness about bamboo’s usefulness for reversing forest cover loss and restoring degraded land.

On 12 May 2022, INBAR hosted a side event at the 17th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF 17). The side event, titled ‘Bamboo as An Effective Tool for Ecosystems Restoration’, gathered more than 80 participants from around the world.

Bamboo can be an effective tool for ecosystem restoration, coupled with economic development and social benefits. It can be an important part of several of UNFF 17’s thematic priorities: “Reversing the loss of forest cover” and “Enhancing cooperation, coordination and coherence for sustainable forest management”.

The event aimed to showcase successful case studies of bamboo use in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and inspire more policymakers and sustainable development practitioners to consider bamboo in their work.

Beneficiaries of INBAR’s Bambuzonía project on a recent training expedition. Well-managed bamboo forests can provide a host of environmental and socio-economic benefits.

The event included five speakers from INBAR, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China (NFGA), the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, the Technological University of Pereira, Colombia, and GreenPot Enterprises from Kenya. Speakers shared stories about the potential of bamboo for land restoration and watershed protection in places as far apart as mining landscapes in Ghana and the coffee-growing region of Colombia. The case study from China focused on the role of policy support for bamboo sector development, and the representative from GreenPot discussed how small- and medium-sized enterprises can make profitable investments in bamboo-based restoration.

In a keynote speech, the Deputy Director of INBAR, Professor Lu Wenming, said: “Bamboo is an important resource that could contribute enormously to forest and landscape restoration.” He described how INBAR’s work focuses on a number of areas, including: undertaking action research and developing demonstration models across INBAR Member States; building capacity; mainstreaming bamboo into the development agenda of governments; and helping countries create an enabling framework for scaling up the bamboo sector. In short, “INBAR’s work focuses on supporting Member States and contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Some of the participants on INBAR’s side event at UNFF 17.

Speaking on behalf of the NFGA, Mrs. Hu Chunzi said her Administration “attaches great importance to the development of the bamboo industry and regards it as an important part of building a modern forestry and grassland sector.” She referenced the NFGA’s Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for Protection and Development of Forestry and Grassland, which includes bamboo in a number of key projects. She also mentioned new NFGA guidelines dedicated to developing China’s bamboo sector. “Opinions on Accelerating the Innovation and Development of the Bamboo Industry was released jointly by ten ministries of China in 2021. With this policy support, the total output value of the bamboo industry in China is expected to reach about USD 150 billion by 2035.”

Professor Stephen Adu Bredu from the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana shared a successful case study where bamboo was used to protect watersheds and improve degraded mining land in Ghana. He said the example of Ghana could be replicated elsewhere, and added that Ghanaians are also benefitting in other ways from the newly planted bamboo: many innovative products and lucrative value chains are being developed, in areas such as bamboo bikes and tissue paper.

Similarly, Professor Juan Carlos Camargo García from the Technological University of Pereira, Colombia, shared the results of a 20-year research project about the effect of bamboo on soil restoration in Colombia. After two decades of monitoring, bamboo was shown to have enhanced a number of ecosystem services, such as improved soil function, water regulation, carbon storage.

In Kenya, Mrs. Kuki Njeru shared the experiences of GreenPot Enterprises, East Africa’s first fully integrated bamboo business. GreenPot works with smallholder farmers to plant, manage and harvest bamboo, and is currently building a factory to enable products to be made on site. She shared a number of reasons behind GreenPot’s success, including tips for infrastucture, the need for careful species selection and management, cultivating good links throughout the value chain.

Following the presentations, Mrs. Li Yanxia, INBAR’s Senior Progamme Officer, opened an interactive poll with all participants to get their opinion and reflections on mainstreaming the use of bamboo for ecosystem restoration. As the poll results showed, participants agreed on a number of focus areas moving forward: the need for more efforts to strengthen scientific and technical cooperation; the importance of policy and financial instruments to create an enabling environment for the bamboo sector to grow; the impact of awareness raising and capacity building; and more.

Find out more about upcoming INBAR events here.