Bamboo — the Magic Bullet to Rapid Carbon Sequestration?

Dr. Hans Friederich, the Director General of the International
Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) is calling on the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiators
to acknowledge bamboo as an important crop that can rapidly
sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Credit: Isaiah
Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

As thousands of environmental technocrats, policy makers and
academics work round the clock to come up with strategies for
mitigation and adaptation to climate change at the United
Nations’ conference in Katowice, Poland, one scientist is asking
Parties to consider massive bamboo farming as a simple but rapid
way of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

“According to the Guinness Book of Records, bamboo is the
fastest growing plant in the world,” said Dr. Hans Friederich,
the Director General of the International Bamboo and Rattan
Organisation (INBAR)
.

Bamboo is actually a giant grass plant in the family of Poaceae.
Some species grow tall and many people refer to them as bamboo
trees.

And because it is a grass, if you cut it, it grows back so
quickly, making it one of the most the ideal crop for rapid actions
in terms of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, according to
Friederich, who has a PhD in groundwater hydrochemistry.

Depending on the species, bamboo can reach full maturity in one
to five years, making it perhaps the only tree-like plant that can
keep up with the rate of human consumption in terms of fuel, timber
and deforestation, according to experts. This is unlike hardwood
trees, which can take up to 40 years to grow to maturity.

The latest International Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC)
report points out that limiting
global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and
unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.

That calls for mitigation measures. And currently many countries
prefer investment in forestry and reforestation mitigation.

Under normal circumstances, trees absorb carbon, and therefore
it forms part of the weight of its biomass, but they take several
years to do so. But when they are cut down and burned for fuel, the
carbon escapes back into the atmosphere.

But now, Friederich believes that with bamboos in place people
will not need to cut down trees for charcoal production because
despite of it being a grass, it produces excellent charcoal that
has been equated to charcoal from trees such as the acacia,
eucalyptus and Chinese Fir.

“Apart from charcoal, there are many other long-lasting
products that can be made from bamboo, and while they remain
intact, they hold onto carbon the giant grass sequestered while
still on the farm,” he told IPS in an interview at the 24th Conference of the Parties to
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(COP24)
.

In China, for example, bamboo is used for making drainage pipes,
shells for transport vehicles, wind turbine blades, and shipping
containers, among other things. It can also be used for making
long-lasting furniture, parquet tiles, door and window frames and
can even be used in the textile industry, among many other
things.

Already, bamboo is slowly gaining popularity in some parts of
the world due to its fast growth, and ability to produce
long-lasting products.

Victor Mwanga retired from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi in
2007 where he was a transport manager for a private company. He
decided to start a bamboo seed production business which he called
Tiriki Tropical Farms and Gardens. He is currently based in Tiriki,
Vihiga County in Kenya’s Western Province.

“I receive customers from different parts of the county,” he
told IPS in a telephone interview. “This thing [bamboo] has
really gained popularity to a point that we are not able to satisfy
the market,” said the farmer who sells each bamboo seedling for
two to three dollars, depending on the size.

Wilbur Ottichilo, the Governor of Vihiga County, told IPS that
his government is already investing in bamboo production. “We
have started by training communities in various parts of the county
on the importance of growing bamboo, and how they can make easy
money from the crop,” he said.

And now, because of its fast growth and ability to sequester
carbon from the atmosphere, Friederich is calling on the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC)
negotiators to acknowledge bamboo as an
important crop that can rapidly sequester carbon from the
atmosphere.

“We are already discussing with the secretariat of the UNFCCC
and the IPCC to include bamboo into the language,” he said. In
some cases, he added, countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana
have included bamboo in their environment, climate change and
renewable energy strategies.

However, said the scientist, this calls for governments to
develop policy frameworks that will allow things to happen, looking
at incentives to support the private sector, build capacity –
train people so they know better how to make bamboo products and
roll out small and medium enterprises.

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Bamboo — the Magic Bullet to Rapid Carbon Sequestration?

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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Bamboo — the Magic Bullet to Rapid Carbon Sequestration?