In recent months, in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Summit, where Sustainable Development Goals are on topic, there has been a lot of news about the benefits of planting trees for climate change mitigation.
A report from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich in the scientific journal Science, a few months ago, advocated to plant at least a trillion trees. The study calculated that over the decades those new trees could suck up nearly 830 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Much of that benefit will come relatively quickly because trees remove more carbon from the air when they are younger, the study authors said.
However, the report only looked at trees and did not consider the significant opportunity that could be provided by planting bamboo. Woody bamboos look like trees, although they are genetically members of the grass family. According to Guinness World Records, Bamboos are the fastest growing plants in the world and can be grown on a organically sustainable way! When the poles are harvested, the roots and rhizomes maintain their health so that new shoots appear during the next growing season, this proces contributes to several Sustainable Development Goals.
Although it would take decades before new forests would be mature enough to store large amounts of carbon, bamboo plantations are very effective within a few years of planting. Reports on China and Ecuador from INBAR, have illustrated this in earlier studies. Also a recent 2019 report by Bamcore in California strongly supports these findings.
The research from Bamcore leads to the fundamental conclusion that woody bamboo significantly out-performs wood, providing significant near-term carbon capture and ultimately more carbon capture and storage per hectare.
Bamboos are part of the natural vegetation in sub-Saharan Africa, much of Asia east of Pakistan and most of Latin America and the Caribbean. This is where the abovementioned Swiss study expects that planting would have the strongest carbon sequestration impact and contribute tot the Sustainable Development Goals. But we may be able to plant bamboo as carbon sinks in other regions as well.
Bamboos are not native to Europe, although the Mediterranean Cane that grows in the Mediterranean Region is very similar to bamboo. We know from pilot tests that bamboos also thrive in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.