Atmosphere Foundation, in collaboration with The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology and the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, launches the ‘Bamboo for Climate Mitigation’ project.
The Bamboo for Climate Mitigation project is spearheaded by the Vice President of the Atmosphere Foundation, in collaboration with The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology and the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture.
There are two components to the initial project program. The project involves planting bamboo seedlings on a large scale through the islands of Maldives and the germination and propagation of seeds to sustain the project and for research.
During the initial part of the project, 500 bamboo seedlings will arrive in Maldives at the end of May and of these 250 will be distributed to community islands by MoECCT while the remaining 250 will be distributed under the care of MoFMRA to industrial islands. The collaboration will be formalized by signing a Memorandum of Understanding between Atmosphere Foundation and MoECCT.
Generous donations of bamboo seeds from private individuals are a significant part of the project’s sustainability. The two seed varieties received are Bambusa bambos and Dendrocalamus strictus. Dendrocalamus is a tropical Asian genus of giant clumping bamboos in the grass family. Seeds have been successfully germinated in 12 days. However, the standard time for germination of bamboo seeds is estimated at around 30 to 40 days.
Stakeholders for the project include government authorities, private organizations, and communities. These groups are expected to actively engage in the program, raising environmental awareness of the challenges and issues related to climate change and making the project sustainable in the long term.
Seeds have been distributed to stakeholders and those who express interest in planting bamboo. Among them are community islands and NGOs, individuals, commercial agriculture islands and Hanimaadho Agriculture Center under MoFMRA. In addition, resorts of Atmosphere Core Pvt Ltd will each receive the two varieties of bamboo seeds for germinating and incorporating into their landscaping programs. This project is expected to make a significant contribution to the country’s carbon neutrality goal.
Maldives carbon neutral target stems from the commitment outlined in the Paris Agreement’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as well as the commitment made in the 2021 Climate Emergency Act (9/2021). This is also essential and an opportune time when according to MoECCT the demands for housing and urbanization in Maldives has resulted in 36 islands having less than 30% green cover.
In keeping with the Foundation’s objectives of carrying out programs that are beneficial to communities and promoting awareness and education, the seminar titled ‘Working Towards Carbon Neutral Maldives with Bamboo’ aims at raising awareness of effective adaptive and mitigative measures for Maldives to achieve its target to become a net zero carbon emitter by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.
This part of the project will be fulfilled by Dr Nambi Barathi, a prominent figure in the world of bamboo in India. Dr Barathi is the Founder Director of Growmore Biotech Ltd and for the past 20 years he has been researching bamboo. The result was the development of a superior clone of the Bambusa balcooa, a fast-growing higher biomass yielding bamboo developed by the conventional breeding method, known as Beema bamboo. Beema bamboo yields 40 tons of dry bamboo from 1 acre (0.4ha) which captures over 88 tons of carbon dioxide every year and releases over 60 tons of oxygen. This clone is thornless and sterile and was developed through tissue culture and free from pests and disease. The bamboo is said to thrive for hundreds of years without needing replanting. This species is considered one of the fastest-growing plants. It grows as much as 1.5ft per day under tropical conditions. It is said to be the best ‘carbon sink’ to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions.
Bamboo is a diverse group of mostly evergreen perennial flowering plants making up the subfamily Bambusoideae belonging to the grass family (Poaceae). There are more than 115 genera and 1,400 known species of bamboo. It is the fastest growing plant in the world and some varieties grow as much as 60cm in 24 hours.
Simultaneously, bamboo enhances soil quality, fosters a healthier environment, and helps mitigate the effects of global warming. Many see bamboo as the future crop of the world, providing renewable energy, raw materials, and becoming a highly profitable commodity in agriculture. The figures on the carbon sequestration rate for bamboo are extremely varied from conventional figures of an average between 15 to 17 tons of carbon per year per one hectare of bamboo stands to as much as 200 to almost 400 tons per hectare in a year. It is also known to release about 35% more oxygen than other plants. Bamboo is seen by many as the future crop for climate change mitigation. While its growth promotes high carbon absorption, the clean air promoted in the process is an added advantage.
The versatility of the plant, it’s extremely high levels of carbon absorption and hence high oxygen release make it an ideal plant for the Maldives where it was noted that there are now 36 inhabited islands in Maldives with less than 30% green cover. The general understanding is that the carbon absorption rate, of living bamboo as well as long-lived bamboo products, is extremely high.
Bamboo has surprisingly high economic value and its known and potential uses include thermal application, liquid fuel for vehicles, wood for timber requirements, cotton for textiles, and in construction. Its high tensile strength, stronger than steel, makes it an ideal material for building and construction. The arts and craft industry has worked with bamboo crafting items for the home as well as the art world. Items made of bamboo range from types of mats: floor mats, beach mats, table mats, table runners, homeware, and kitchen utensils: coasters, cutlery trays, fruit trays, boxes, bins, baskets, lampshades, curtains, furniture, shoulder bags and purses, jewellery, magazine holders, table watches, masks etc. Design and art and crafts made of bamboo are also quite abundant in the consumer market.