Agro-forestry of Bamboo as a plantation crop offers a novel mechanism to reduce the impact of global warming and slowing down climate change. As yet untapped, bamboo is a strategic resource that tropical countries can use to manage climate change, while at the same time, provide beneficial ‘eco-friendly’ sources of income for their agrarian/ rural populations.
However, two major hurdles to bamboo’s more rapid development are-
- lack of appreciation of its significant benefits by the policy makers
- its classification as a forest-produce, bringing bamboo under the ambit of forest laws/regulation.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is beginning to recognize the potential of bamboo agro-forestry systems (or plantation agriculture) in mitigating climate! 160; change. Bamboo plantations offer an efficient carbon sink, capable of significantly reducing the negative effects of greenhouse gases on the planet. Besides, it also creates considerable biomass, an energy/fuel source for rural households. As a substitute for wood-fuel, bamboo-fuel offers a successful mechanism to avoid deforestation, and save our precious forest wealth.
Bamboo, belonging to the grass family, grows fast, thus an excellent resource for rapid creation of dense vegetation.
Further Research is necessary to exploit its full potential and gauge/estimate the global bamboo carbon stock. However, recent research in China, The Red Dragon, now, also called The Bamboo Kingdom -has compared bamboo with the fast-growing fir tree. The results indicate that bamboo is comparable and in some cases superior in its ability to sequester carbon than most forest hardwoo! d or softwood trees. Strategically, bamboo p! lantations, offer a new ‘ecological infrastructure’ to combat climate change in a cost-effective way.
Besides its green foot-print, Bamboo Agro-forestry systems also help in regulating erosion, control of water pollution ( the root system helps to remove pollutants), as wind breaks and at times partial shade for the under-crop in a two-tier cropping system.
Vetiver Systems ( see detailed below) have been tried and tested for restoration of degraded soils by mitigating and controlling the effect of industrial effluents discharged into the water resources.
To my mind, coupling bamboo plantation ( agro-forestry system) with an under-story crop of Vetiver- should be a good cropping system to mitigate climate change, as well as water pollution, while at the same time an aid to soil-restoration.