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Fiji to promote Bamboo, Joins INBAR

In its efforts to continue Fiji’s fight against climate change, restore ecosystems services, and provide alternative livelihoods for Fijians, the Government through the Ministry of Forestry is promoting the research, planting and sustainable use of bamboo.

The planting of bamboo will also be part of Fiji’s reforestation and afforestation programmes, which are driven largely by the national 30 Million Trees in 15 Years tree-planting revolution and the World Bank funded programme on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).  

Bamboo will also feature prominently in the sustainable management of non-wood forest products and will also ease the pressure on native forests.  

On 1st September, 2020 Fiji joined Tonga as the second Pacific Island Country to become a member state of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR). Two weeks ago on 27th October 2020, diplomats and policymakers together with the Ambassador of Cameroon to China, H.E. Mr. Martin Mpana (speaking on behalf of the Chair of the INBAR Council, which is made up of all INBAR Member States), Professor Jiang Zehui (the co-Chair of INBAR’s Board of Trustees) and Fiji’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Colonel Manasa Tagicakibau, celebrated Fiji’s accession to INBAR at a flag raising ceremony in Beijing, China. Find out more about Fiji’s bamboo resources and membership of INBAR - https://www.inbar.int/country/fiji

Minister for Forestry Honourable Osea Naiqamu said Fiji’s membership of INBAR will strengthen local capacity on the uses of bamboo, trade, markets, landscape restoration and income generation.

“Bamboo development in Fiji started as a project in the late 1970s in Vunidawa, Naitasiri with funding from the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The project was to explore the utilization of local bamboo species,” Minister Naiqamu said.

Minister Naiqamu added the project however was not successful due to the lack of appropriate technology, low interest from industry stakeholders and a consequential lack of investments or financial support and changing government policies.

“Now that Fiji is a member state of INBAR, it will definitely have a major impact on the forestry sector, economy, environment and the livelihoods of the people,” Minister Naiqamu said.

He said the Ministry is placing more emphasis on non-wood forest resources due to its magnitude, rotation, potential economic gain and gender inclusivity. “We have identified some key species like bamboo, candlenut, mulberry tree, and sandalwood to name a few.”

“Encouraging bamboo planting as part of a larger landscape, degraded lands could be restored to productive use, thereby alleviating some of the pressures on forests from development uses and providing communities with secure incomes.”

Minister Naiqamu said with the membership of INBAR, the Ministry looks forward to the support of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), Ministry of Women and the Fiji Bamboo Association (FBA) to the establishment of the first Regional Bamboo Centre in Fiji where its membership with INBAR will play a key role in capacity building and institutional strengthening of research and development of our bamboo resources.

According to the INBAR www.inbar.internationalbambooandrattanorganisation and its report on its linkage to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 15 - Life on Land, bamboo and rattan play a key role in biodiversity conservation and land restoration. They contribute to SDG 15, which aims to protect terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests and combat desertification and biodiversity loss.

It further states that bamboo and rattan are a key part of bio-diverse landscapes where they grow, with many mammals, insect and fungal species dependent on bamboo and rattan for their survival.

Guided by its 2015-2030 Strategy, INBAR’s priority is to work with member countries to focus the use of bamboo and rattan as strategic resources that support sustainable development and their green economy action plans. Its strategy and performance contribute directly to at least six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including;

SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms

SDG 7: Provide affordable, sustainable and reliable modern energy services for all

SDG 11: Access to adequate and affordable housing

SDG 12: Efficient use of natural resources

SDG 13: Address climate change

SDG 15: Protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems

With 47 member states, INBAR is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the promotion of bamboo and rattan for sustainable development.

INBAR has worked across with its member states to create bio-diverse habitats using bamboo and rattan. INBAR’s work on biodiversity includes:

Mapping bamboo and rattan biodiversity. Most recently, INBAR is mapping the amount of bamboo across a number of countries, using innovative GIS technology;

·  Developing management systems for bamboos that protect biodiversity without unnecessarily compromising productivity;

·     Promoting the identification and protection of endangered bamboo and rattan species and habitats. INBAR has categorised over 1600 identified species of bamboo and 600 species of rattan. Many of these are used for subsistence or for income generation, but are also threatened by over-harvesting and lack of management;

·         Involving bamboo in bio-diverse landscapes, such as the UN Satoyama initiative;

·         Raising awareness of the plight of organisms that depend on bamboo for all or part of their lives.

Today, bamboo and rattan are already among the world’s most valuable non-timber forest products, with an estimated market value of USD $60 billion (Fijian $120 billion). Rural smallholder communities benefiting from these markets can become an integral part of conservation efforts.

Bamboo is a strategic resource that many countries can use to restore their degraded landscapes and reverse the dangers of desertification.  Its rapid growth and strong root systems make bamboo a powerful soil protection tool. Estimates show that a single bamboo plant can bind up to 6-metres cubed of soil. As well as this, most bamboo species form an evergreen canopy, dropping leaves year round and improving soil health.

It also states that bamboo can also prevent deforestation by reducing pressure on existing forest resources. Farmers and foresters who can regularly harvest raw materials and fuel from bamboo stands are under less economic pressure to unsustainably exploit less renewable forests, especially if the bamboo is close to home.

The report further added that if member states can harness the potential of bamboo and rattan they will be closer to achieving their climate and environmental aims including SDGs, REDD+ targets, Paris Agreement commitments and the Aichi Biodiversity targets.

Bamboo is vital for the reforestation of degraded areas, protection of soil and water sheds, land restoration, housing, food and furniture. It is versatile with high potential in carbon sequestration and could be used along with native trees to combat Climate Change as the type of carbon dioxide fixation in Bamboo is the same as in timber trees. 

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