THE Philippines is eyeing to boost its share in the global market for commercial bamboo products with its plan to establish 1 million hectares of bamboo plantation in critical watershed areas and other sites under the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) within the next six years.
On Monday the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in partnership with the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Office of Sen. Loren B. Legarda, will host a symposium and exhibit showcasing bamboo as a strategic tool to mitigate the effects of climate change and a driving force for sustainable economic development.
With the theme “Bamboo for Resilience”, the daylong National Symposium and Exhibit on Bamboo and Climate Change to be held at the Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City, aims to boost the country’s commercial bamboo industry.
The ENGP aims to rehabilitate an estimated 7.1 million hectares of forestlands from 2016 to 2028.
A member of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council, Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez earlier issued a policy pronouncement that the DENR will go on a “massive” bamboo-planting activity.
Bamboo is now becoming a popular source of materials for furniture and other manufactured wood articles. The Department of Science and Technology has been promoting the cultivation of bamboo and has developed various techniques to boost cultivation, harvesting and use.
Likewise, the DENR’s Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau has been conducting research and development to boost bamboo production and use to enhance furniture production both for local and export.
Lopez earlier vowed to promote social enterprise through the massive greening program of the Duterte administration and wants people in upland communities to get direct benefit from the endeavor.
The Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council was created under Executive Order 879 signed in 2010 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to promote the development of the country’s bamboo sector.
The national symposium on bamboo will bring together some 200 experts, policy-makers and key stakeholders in the bamboo sector to discuss the role of bamboo in climate mitigation.
The initiative also aims to promote bamboo as a suitable replacement for timber and other construction materials.
Other speakers include Legarda, CCC Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and Ilocos Sur Rep. Victorino Savellano.
Among the topics to be discussed are bamboo biology, bamboo utilization, bamboo enterprise, bamboo postharvest technologies, and policy and advocacy support for bamboo.
Participants will have the opportunity to witness the various uses of bamboo and learn about the opportunities in the bamboo value chain, particularly in the establishment of community-based enterprises in rural areas.
Bamboo is a fast-growing plant. Some bamboo species grow at up to 1 meter a day. It is a high-value crop and effective in mitigating climate change, given its fast biomass production and renewability.
The resource plant sequesters more carbon at 400 percent per unit area and gives off 35 percent more oxygen than other trees. The bamboo dies if left unattended for more than 10 years.
Harvested properly and at the right time, the root of bamboo survives and continues to store carbon as the harvested stems grow back.
Of the 1,000 species of bamboo on the planet, 49 grow abundantly in the Philippines. This gives the country the potential to become the second-largest bamboo producer in the world, next only to China, whose current market share is around 50 percent.
In 2009 the Philippines ranked sixth as the biggest exporter of bamboo products worldwide, with a total export value reaching $30 million.
The international market value of commercial bamboo reached $20 billion in 2015, owing to the growing demand for eco-friendly alternative to wood to conserve the world’s remaining forests.
Bamboo can reach maturity in five years and can be harvested once every two years for about 100 to 120 years. It belongs to the Poaceae (Gramineae) family of grass, just like sugarcane and corn.