As thousands of fires continue to ravage the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest land carbon sink, one should know by now that trees play an important role in helping to offset global warming by storing carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide in their wood, leaves, and roots. However, efforts to thoroughly study the role that non-tree plants play in climate change mitigation are increasing and all pointing to Bamboo plant as being the new weapon in the fight against climate change.
Several studies on Bamboo’s carbon sequestration properties have shown that this plant potentially acts as a valuable sink for carbon storage, and on an average, one hectare of bamboo absorbs about 17 tonnes of carbon per year, unlike a hectare of mature trees that absorbs approximately 6.4 tonnes of CO2 per year. In addition to its capacity of capturing carbon dioxide from the air at a fast pace, Bamboo can also rapidly rejuvenate degraded lands and return soil fertility.
As part of its efforts to mitigate climate change and reduce pressure on forests, African Bamboo is pioneering the way in opening up Ethiopia’s vast sustainable resource of bamboo, as a timber substitute, through the export of high quality bamboo composite outdoor decking product. Believing in the need to increase bamboo plot and tackle deforestation of bamboo in Ethiopia, African Bamboo has established a nursery in the Sidama region aimed at multiplying seedlings to help local farmers grow their managed bamboo plantations from a total of 1,000 ha to 1,500 ha. Currently, the company produces 50,000 seedlings per year and aims to keep increasing that figure.
Furthermore, African Bamboo has applied UNFCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to develop a carbon model to estimate the net carbon benefit from the overall operations. Collectively, AB Forestry net carbon sequestration from the bamboo culms both above and below ground biomass, as well as the change in soil organic carbon (after leakage) on natural forest site and community forests is estimated to be 118,600 t of CO2 per year.
Faithful to its pursuit of sustainability, African Bamboo is also committed to becoming a zero waste company. Realizing the multiple roles of Bamboo in sequestering carbon, AB’s factory uses the latest technology for energy efficiency and implements a biomass-powered energy plant that operates on bamboo residues. In fact, replacing diesel with renewable biomass saves approximately 6.2 million litres of diesel per year and offsets 16,700 t of CO2 per year.
According to a study conducted by INBAR, products made from bamboo can be carbon neutral – or even carbon negative – over their lifecycle, because they act as locked-in carbon sinks in themselves. As a matter of fact, African Bamboo decking products have shown strong carbon fixation abilities; at a rate of 0.78 Kg CO2 per 1 Kg of bamboo, 35,100 t CO2 per year will be fixated for a quantity of 45.000 t of bamboo produced every year. All in all, current estimates indicate that AB interventions will result in conservative net annual carbon sequestration of 188,800 t CO2 per year across AB Group.