Environmental Sustainability

Bamboo offers excellent opportunities for environmental sustainability combined with poverty reduction. The benefits of bamboo in rehabilitation of degraded forest lands, afforestation, biomass generation, carbon sequestration, erosion prevention and watershed protection are well documented, but better management and production systems are needed. Many animal species are dependent on bamboo or rattan for their habitats. The depletion of rattan resources from tropical forests needs to be halted and restocking undertaken.

Environmental benefits of bamboo

Timber substitution/complementarity

Bamboo is a renewable source of soft wood that can substitute for timber wood. Much of the logged wood goes for building/construction and paper and pulp industries and bamboo could substitute for a large proportion of this, among other uses.

Watershed protection, soil erosion, sustainable land management

Bamboos maintain a permanent canopy over the soil and are excellent at reducing soil erosion, whilst providing a source of softwood for income generating activities – a three year-old plantation reduced soil erosion by 75% at an INBAR project site in China, this before canopy closure. They are also often used to stabilize riverbanks.


Bamboos are habitats for a number of endangered species, including the Giant Panda (China), Mountain gorilla (Uganda/Rwanda), lesser and greater bamboo lemurs (Madagascar), and bamboo bats (China). Thirty four species of birds are known to rely on bamboo in the Amazon. Some species of bamboo are themselves under threat due to over harvesting (eg Qiongzhuea tumidinoda in China), whilst others are known only from single locations and could be threatened if the habitat comes under pressure.

Climate change/adaption, carbon sequestration

Bamboo is one of the most productive and fastest growing plants on the planet. Below ground bamboo biomass makes up 25-50% of the total stock. Carbon content comprises usually about 50% of the total biomass. Besides higher biomass, bamboo has other advantages over wood as a carbon stock. Unlike woody crops bamboo offers the possibility of annual selective harvesting and removal of about 15-20% of the total stock without damaging the environment and stock productivity. Over 90% of bamboo carbon can be sequestered in durable products such as boards, panels, floors, furniture, buildings, cloth, paper and activated

INBAR’s work