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Asean Affairs  2 December 2010

A bamboo solution

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     2 December 2010

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In various campaigns to protect the environment, from time to time there is the call to “Plant a Tree.”

In the latest news coming out of the United Nations talks in Cancun on Wednesday, a tree was proposed to come to the aid of the planet and it was an Asian tree, the bamboo.

The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) said that the fast-growing and strong bamboo provides an answer to surging carbon emissions, generates income for the rural poor and helps tackle housing shortages.

There is nothing new about bamboo, but INBAR believes the full potential of the plant has not been discovered or utilized. The China-based INBAR says some species of bamboo can absorb CO2 at least as fast as Chinese fir and eucalyptus, among the swiftest-growing commercial species of trees. The organization is an inter-government group comprising 36 countries under a treaty. Bamboo roots also reduce soil erosion and prevent hillsides and riverbanks from washing away in floods and landslides.

It is not unusual for an industry group such as INBAR to make large claims for itself but with the recent floods that have hit various parts of Asia from Bangladesh to Thailand, perhaps bamboo plantations require a more intensive look.

The main countries growing bamboo, which is a US$5 billion industry, are China, Indonesia and Vietnam.


Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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