Ecological services by Bamboo

Planting this magnificent grass has immense environmental benefits because they function as a carbon sink, produces oxygen, controls soil erosion, provides organic matter, regulates water levels in watersheds, conserves biodiversity, beautifies the landscape, landslide prevention, river rejuvenation, and essentially contributes to the purification and regulation of the environment.

Carbon sequestration and storage

Bamboo forests have an important role in carbon sequestration and storage. Carbon sequestration has a wide range of benefits, from local to global. Bamboo forests are thought to have a higher carbon-sequestration potential than other land-use categories. It absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the atmosphere three to four times higher than many other trees and thereby reducing the carbon emissions which contribute to global warming. It has been estimated that the mean carbon storage and sequestration rate in woody bamboos ranges from 30–121 Mg ha−1 and 6–13 Mg ha−1 yr−1, respectively. It is also well known that bamboo plantations, which can act as carbon sinks have a significant advantage over other biomass resources due to the remarkable species diversity, fast-growing nature, early establishment, adaptability to different soil and climatic conditions, short harvesting period, sustainability in yield and its multifarious uses. In this context, there is an urgent need to integrate bamboos with the carbon trade which will promote the cultivation and management of bamboos in agroforestry systems and thereby ensure livelihood security by generating another income stream for rural communities. In India, the study done by Nath et al. (2012) shows that the rate of aboveground carbon sequestration in a mixed patch of Bambusa species (B. vulgaris, B. balcooa and B. cacharensis) ranges between 18.93 and 23.55 t/ha/year.

Soil erosion, flood, and landslide control

The rapid growth of bamboo clumps with permanent canopy and complex network of root systems are considered effective, resilient erosion control measures and protect slopes against erosion and soil mass loss. Hence, planting bamboos prevent floods and landslides and also helps in soil and water conservation, protection of riverbanks, and windbreak and shelterbelt potential. The higher fine root intensity, below-ground biomass production, and higher soil hydraulic conductivity of some species like B. vulgaris, B. bambos and D. hamiltonii have the ability to bind the soil more efficiently, and thereby can contribute to more groundwater recharge. The studies indicate that (FAO and INBAR, 2018) a bamboo plantation can help to reduce the average soil erosion by 80%, and an established bamboo plantation significantly reduces soil erosion by up to 27 t soil/ha/year.

Groundwater recharge

Generally, bamboo forests intercept rainfall and improve water infiltration, and, percolation, reduces runoff, they have an impact on the hydrological cycle. These functions of the forest are critical for soil and water conservation.

Maintain Biodiversity

Bamboo provides food and habitat for numerous insects in the soil and tree layers and spiders, butterflies, birds, and other higher life forms

River bank stabilization

Planting of trees, shrubs, herbs, or grasses along the riverbank is a vegetative method of stabilization referred to as riverbank bio-stabilization whereby the root system holds the soil in place and reduces the impact of water flow. Bamboos are easy to grow and adapt to a variety of conditions, making them ideal for riverbank stabilization.