You can do it with bamboo

Photo credit: INBAR


Tackling desertification and land degradation 


Bamboo is a strategic resource that many countries can use to restore their degraded landscapes and reverse the dangers of desertification. With the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) currently holding its twelth session of the Conference of parties (COP 12) in Turkey, more policy makers and rural development planners need to be better informed about the unique properties of this plant and how it can help them combat desertification.


Reverse land degradation 
Bamboos grow rapidly through an extensive root system that helps to bind soil, whilst maintaining a permanent canopy, making the plant a unique and effective tool to control erosion and slope stability.
This has been demonstrated in Guizhou Province, China, where research documented a 24.6 percent decrease in surface run-off compared to sweet potato croplandi, and an initiative in Allahabad, India, where 80,000 hectares of land made unusable by a decade of brick mining was brought back into productivity using bamboo as a pioneer species.
Some countries are now exploring options for achieving land degradation neutrality through the use of bamboo: Ghana is using bamboo to ‘re-green’ dump sites and the quarries of former mining areas; and Ethiopia’s Sustainable Land Management Programme is promoting bamboo as a strategic resource to control erosion and restore degraded upper catchments – an approach directly promoted by the country’s President, Mulatu Teshome.
Improve soil health 
Most bamboo species form an ‘evergreen canopy’, dropping leaves year round, providing a perennial source of nutrients. It is estimated that, on average, one hectare of bamboo produces some 5-7 tonnes of leaf litter per year – an effective mulch to improve soil properties.


Read the full article: INBAR


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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