Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bamboo As A Carbon Offset: INBAR Does The Math

Carbon credits are certificates that represent a reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These reductions are accomplished by projects designed to prevent the generation of greenhouse gases:  they range from windmill farms to geothermal energy projects to biomass alternative energy initiatives to reforestation.

INBAR has taken the reforestation project and put their own bamboo spin on it for Chinese companies.  Carbon credits in the form of bamboo plantation investments are now available for companies.

With so many options available, with so many projects, with traditional hardwood forestry as an option, why invest in bamboo?
  • It grows up to four feet per day so it can be harvested every 4-5 years as opposed to the 25-70 years it can take for traditional hardwoods to mature.
  • It removes CO2 from the air and produces over 30% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.
  • Below the ground, bamboo’s roots help prevent soil erosion.
  • Bamboo improves soil quality.  The roots remove excess nitrogen and because the plant grows readily with no use of pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides, there is no ground pollution involved.
  • Environmentalists are researching bamboo’s apparent ability to soak up excess nutrients in waste water as an answer to waste issues.
With all these environmentally-friendly qualities, what has kept bamboo off the carbon offset table?

Very simply, a lack of math.  Because bamboo plants have very different growth characteristics than trees, different mechanisms were needed to measure their carbon outputs.  And before now, there was no way to determine how much carbon a bamboo plant can convert.

Thanks to INBAR, the China Green Carbon Foundation and the Zhejiang Agriculture, a methodology now exists that can calculate the amount of carbon available in the massive bamboo plantations in China.  (Well, they actually only account for 2.8% of China’s total forest area but considering the land mass of China, that is a significant chunk.)

“This is a really big breakthrough,” said Yannick Kuehl, a climate change expert at INBAR who helped develop the technique. “This means that now bamboo is recognized as carbon offset, and as a tool for climate change mitigation measures.”

According to Kuehl, more than 10 Chinese companies have pre-ordered carbon credits and the money they pay will go towards planting new bamboo forests in China.  In a country plagued with environmental issues, utilizing the sustainable bamboo plant is a positive step.

(Excerpt of article from Green Earth News. NOT AFFILIATED WITH LAMBOO)

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