African Bamboo is pleased to announce that it has received approval of bamboo forest management, harvesting and transportation for its bamboo based panel production project in the region of West Arsi, one of the zones of Oromia region, located about 400 kilometers south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The environmental permit was granted by the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Authority of the Oromia Regional State following review and approval of African Bamboo’s Environmental & Social Impact Assessment for its proposed community operations in West Arsi. Issuance of the environmental permit verifies that the government accepts proposed measures to minimize or mitigate key risks associated with African Bamboo’s operations, and that these measures conform with national environmental and social law as well as to relevant international treaties, conventions and protocols to which Ethiopia is signatory.
“We are very pleased to have secured the environmental permit for our proposed operations in West Arsi as it means that African Bamboo now holds environmental permits for operations in each of its three proposed project sites. We can now work with communities to legally harvest bamboo in West Arsi, Sidama and Ambo regions.” says Ms Rania Duri, Deputy General Manager of African Bamboo.
The Environmental and Social Impact Assessments carried out in each site show that the project will maintain and enhance bamboo areas while delivering significant social benefits including enhancing livelihoods. In addition to increasing incomes of employees and smallholder farmers, African Bamboo will deliver a range of training courses to 17,000 farmers, improve the size and number of bamboo culms produced per unit area per year, facilitate South-South and North-South transfer of technology, as well as strengthening the capacity of community cooperatives, facilitating development of community enterprises, and provide a year-round market for bamboo.
“Our foundational objective is not only making a healthy economic rate of return, but also creating a positive impact on society and the environment. From an environmental perspective, the growth and harvesting of bamboo will help stabilize the microclimate in West Arsi, avoid soil erosion, recharge the groundwater and reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” Ms. Duri adds.
This will pave way for the company to be one of the most competitive bamboo based panel producers in the global export market, while at the same time spurring development in rural areas by optimizing the multi-purpose benefits of Africa’s largest bamboo resources in Ethiopia.
Currently, around one million hectares of land in Ethiopia is covered by bamboo plantation of smallholder farmers. Out of this, an estimated 300,000 hectares of land is covered by highland bamboo, botanically known as Yushania alpina. This species grows naturally in ecological zones of the country between 2200 – 3500 meters above sea level and has traditionally been used as a material for fencing, traditional home building, fuel wood and other domestic purposes.
Realizing its immense potential in transforming the country’s rural economy, African Bamboo has focused its operations on this untapped tropical bamboo species and developed highly competitive processing technologies to manufacture innovative products at scale, while ensuring sustainable supply chains from forest to market.