In October 2018, the world’s leading climate scientists released an alarming report on the state of our planet. They explained the impacts of 1.5°C of global warming on natural and human systems and stressed the urgent need for solutions, to cut the risks of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. So how is bamboo a part of that solution?
BAMBOO ADDRESSES CLIMATE CHANGE
There are at least 30 million hectares of bamboo in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Fast growing and quick to mature, bamboo plants and products can store more carbon than certain types of tree. This is because it can be harvested regularly, creating a large number of durable products. These sustainable products store carbon for several years, as well as the carbon in the plant itself. They are long-lasting, recyclable, and can replace a variety of emissions-intensive materials including steel and concrete.
It’s been said that 1 acre of bamboo forest can take almost 5 tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere every year. The same amount emitted by a car!
BAMBOO RESTORES LAND
Bamboo can help prevent desertification. Its extensive root systems mean that the grass binds earth and restores soil health.
When technically managed, plantations can increase biodiversity, restore soil function and raise the water tables in some of the most degraded parts of the planet. In only 2 years, new bamboo plantations can revert soil erosion by up to 70%!
BAMBOO SUPPORTS CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION
Bamboo grows locally in some of the world’s poorest communities. This means the alternative fibre can contribute to combatting climate change in the developing world. It can help communities adapt to the negative impacts of climate change by providing a sustainable, year-long source of income. The material can also be used to create flexible and strong disaster-resilient housing.
Bamboo is already a staple part of many people’s lives and livelihoods as a source of food, fibre and fuel. But plantations growing bamboo can create employment for thousands of families in developing countries. In contrast to timber, bamboo is harvested annually ensuring that these jobs are secure and permanent. This helps nurture local communities most vulnerable to climate change.
So, if grown sustainably, bamboo can drive economic growth while providing sustainable livelihood opportunities.