Bamboo—technically a grass, not a tree—has the potential to significantly offset carbon emissions, and has been the center of discussions this week during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun.
The "grass" is stronger than steel and is a buffer against climate change in two ways: by providing low-income communities with a material to build climate-resistant homes and by sequestering carbon faster than other species such as eucalyptus. It also grows at the rate of 1.2 meters per day.
"Bamboo is a remarkable resource for driving economic development, and is readily available in many of the world's poorest countries," said Coosje Hoogendoorn, director-general of International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in Cancun.
"Bamboo should be referred to as the wise man's timber," said INBAR regional coordinator Alvaro Cabrera, because it helps support the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people, grows fast, is found across the globe, and is a significant source of trade dollars at about $5 billion per year.
China, India, and Vietnam are the main sources of bamboo for trade and there is talk of developing schemes whereby bamboo stocks come labeled with a sustainability certification and indication of the the source country. The bamboo discussions held today in Cancun indicate the growing effort to diversify climate change tactics.
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[Image: Terry Spivey, Bugwood.org]