Original Article

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 261-276

First online:

Bamboo in climate change and rural livelihoods

  • Maxim LobovikovAffiliated withFAO
  • , Dieter SchoeneAffiliated withConsultant for Forests and Climate Change Email author 
  • , Lou YpingAffiliated withINBAR

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Climate change negotiations, assessments, and greenhouse gas inventory guidelines have all but bypassed bamboo. Disallowing stands of tree-like bamboos as forests disparages their function in the carbon (C) cycle, and disregards pillars of smallholder livelihoods. Exposing bamboo not as a panacea, but as an overlooked option for C conservation, sequestration, and adaptation, we screen details of distribution, morphology, growth, physiology, and impacts for pertinence to climate change. Additional to 40 million hectares of existing bamboo forests, many potential host countries for C projects harbor suitable sites. Definitions, methods and default values, such as the root/shoot- ratio, biomass conversion factors, allometric equations and sampling variables need adjusting. Rapid maturation, persistent rhizomes, a rich palette of species, and wind-firmness may mitigate risk. Bamboos can accommodate agro-and urban forestry, and reign in unsustainable shifting cultivation. Distribution functions of bamboo biomass stocks and growths do not deviate drastically from those of trees. If anything, bamboo stocks are slightly lower, and growths slightly higher, with medians of 87 t*ha−1 and 10.5 t*ha−1*yr−1, respectively. However, bamboo’s outstanding socio-economic effects might well determine its future in mitigation and adaptation. Early, continuous yields, selective harvesting on even small parcels of land, low capital and high labor intensity, virtually 100% conversion efficiency to about 1,500 products, and, typically, 75% of economic returns benefiting rural people are advantageous attributes. Regional studies on suitability, silviculture, yields, economics, risk, and C assessment would strengthen bamboo’s function as ‘the poor man’s timber’ and promote its niche as the smallholder’s C sink.


Adaptation Biomass stocks Biomass growth CDM Forest definition Mitigation Monitoring PoA REDD NAMA