New global initiative helps countries harness bamboo and rattan – to bring people out of poverty and protect forests.

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A new planned $100 million global initiative aims to unlock the potential of bamboo and rattan for rural communities – to create local economic growth, new income streams, regenerate degraded lands and forests.

Bamboo and rattan are powerful ‘strategic forest resources’ that can bring jobs and income to millions of people in rural areas, create new income streams for communities and reverse land degradation and deforestation. But today progress toward this widespread growth is slow. It is caused by a lack of coordination between bamboo and rattan experts and agencies, technical knowledge that is difficult to access and the need for new evidence that countries can use to harness these resources to boost economic growth.

The new GABAR initiative, launched today at the World Forestry Congress, will help improve this situation. GABAR (for Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan) brings together some 41 bamboo and rattan resource countries, research partners, development agencies and technical specialists. It will provide rapid access to knowledge such as forest management practices, examples of bamboo and rattan value chains and business cases, studies and natural resource assessments, and input to policy issues. These are issues countries must address to create a favourable investment climate to develop these sectors.

The ability to tap the full economic and environmental potential of bamboo and rattan eludes many countries today, says Hans Friederich, Director General of INBAR, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan. GABAR helps close this gap this by providing easy access to knowledge, practical tools and policy guidance for countries and development programmes.

“A wealth of information exists today on how to use bamboo and rattan for economic development. But it is difficult to find, and it resides in different research centers, organisations, government agencies, and with experts worldwide. At the same time there are areas where we need more research and hard evidence, such as: how much bamboo and rattan exits in the world and where is it located; what are the species, their agro-ecological characteristics, water and nutrient requirements and options for propagation and creation of new bamboo plantations,” he explains.

Speaking for INBAR Member States, representative of Jamaica, the INBAR Council Chair, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Commerce of Jamaica, comments that GABAR will help bamboo and rattan resource countries be more productive. “GABAR provides them with new knowledge as well as ‘technology and policy packages’ to help strengthen their bamboo and rattan sectors. GABAR products and services will include research and synthesis activities, capacity building and the south-south exchange of technical expertise. It will also be a knowledge platform that provides information and data about bamboo and rattan that policy makers and development professionals can use to craft  national strategies and actions plans.”

These plants offer dozens of new and innovative uses for income generation and improving environmental management. We need to better understand how to make the best use of them, says Friederich. “GABAR is the first global initiative of its kind that brings together practical solutions from around the world to help countries take practical steps to develop bamboo and rattan.”

GABAR is a partnership between INBAR and its 41 Member States with a range of national and international partners. All interested organizations are welcome to join – as core partners, technical partners or to provide in-kind support or funding. The initiative is planned as a $100 million programme. Current indicative contributing projects and earmarked funding total some $25 million.

Contributing activities – current status
Current contributing and supporting partners:

  • China’s State Forestry Administration – national inventory and assessment.
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture – assessment of bamboo’s potential for land restoration.
  • Madagascar – bamboo for land restoration..
  • Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry – national inventory.
  • Cameroon – bamboo for land restoration option and renewable energy
  • Jamaica – bamboo industry development, manufacture of bamboo charcoal for export.
  • Vietnam – sustainable rattan management, regional assessment for bamboo development.
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – works with INBAR on national assessments of bamboo for energy and livelihoods in 3 African countries; South-South exchanges with India.

GABAR products & services – key outputs

  • Comprehensive assessment of opportunities and challenges for bamboo and rattan development in the Global South, especially Africa.
  • Policy/strategy recommendations for effective management and use of bamboo and rattan.
  • Assessments of the potential of bamboo and rattan for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Land restoration – recommendations for national and international priority actions.
  • Species and type inventory – description of bamboo and rattan types, species and detailed characterization (physiological, ecological, practices, distribution maps).
  • Global network of field researchers and local experts, coordinated by an INBAR network manager.
  • Information and knowledge sharing platform for access to a wealth of resources on bamboo and rattan practices and policies.
  • Comprehensive maps of bamboo and rattan distribution (global, regional, national).
  • Knowledge and tools – reports, studies, useful packaged data.

International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)
INBAR is a multilateral development organization of 41 Member States for the promotion of Bamboo and Rattan. INBAR plays a unique role in supporting its members to find and demonstrate innovative ways of using bamboo and rattan to protect environments and biodiversity, and alleviate poverty. INBAR connects a global network of partners from the government, private, and not-for-profit sectors to define and implement a global agenda for sustainable development with bamboo and rattan.

Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan
The Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan (GABAR) is a partnership of INBAR and its 41 member states, with a range of national and international partners. It calls on the knowledge of national bamboo and rattan institutes and experts worldwide. The initiative is planned as a 100 million USD programme which will deliver a full range support to countries, including the global assessment and inventory activities, knowledge sharing, capacity building and policy, and technical advice – much of this through facilitation of south-south cooperation and learning.

Blogpost submitted by Jack Durrell (INBAR) – jdurrell(at)inbar.int
Picture courtesy Lou Yiping (INBAR)

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