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Bamboo plantations: An approach to Carbon sequestration.

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Proceedings of National Workshop on Global Warming and its Implications for Kerala
127GLOBAL WARMING.... TREE IS THE ANSWER
Bamboo plantations: an approach to Carbon
sequestration
Seethalakshmi, K.K., Jijeesh, C.M. and Balagopalan, M.
Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi 680 653, Trichur, Kerala
seetha@kfri.org
Abstract
Global warming is one among the most devastating problems of the
new millennium and Kyoto Protocol expresses the deep concern of scientific
community on increasing carbon emission due to developmental activities. Carbon
sequestration is one of the approaches in climate change mitigation policy that
had received significant attention over the past several years. Being one of the
most productive and fastest growing plants on the planet with its decay resistant
litter, bamboo potentially acts as a valuable sink for carbon storage. On an
average, one hectare of bamboo stand absorbs about 17 tonnes of carbon per
year. Bamboo stands occupy an area of 36 million hectares worldwide which is
equivalent to 3.2 percent of the total forest area in the world. In Asia, India is
the major bamboo producing country (almost 11.4 million hectares) which
accounts for roughly half the total area of bamboo reported for Asia. The dry
matter accumulation by Chusquea culeou (Chile) is in the tune of 156-162 t ha-
1 , while that of Phyllostachys pubescence (Japan), and Gigantochloa alter
(Indonesia) is 138 ton ha-1 and 45 t ha-1, respectively. The lowest dry matter
accumulation (0.35 ton ha-1 ) has been reported by Bashania fangiana (China).
In our common thorny bamboo, Bambusa bamboos the dry matter accumulation
at the age of 4, 6 and 8 has been reported to be 122, 225 and 286 t ha-1,
respectively and it is on par with the 10 year old fast growing Causarina
equisetifolia (292.68 ton ha-1) or Eucalyptus tereticornis plantation (254.97
ton ha-1). The biomass production and thereby the carbon sequestration potential
of many of the Indian bamboos are yet to be unravelled. If scientifically and
127
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Proceedings of National Workshop on Global Warming and its Implications for Kerala
intelligently managed, bamboo which owes an inherent fast growth and thereby producing high biomass on
a sustained basis can potentially act as the carbon sink and contribute to the global climate change mitigation
initiatives.
Introduction
Global warming is one of the most devastating problems of the new millennium. Emission of carbon
in to the ecosystem due to industrial and technological advancement man is one of the strongest causal
factors of the global warming. According to Goodess et al (1992), the CO2 rate increases 1.8 µmol-1 (air)
year-1, equivalent to 0.5 % year-1. Estimates indicate that in 100 years the environmental CO2 will reach
values of 650-700 µmol-1 (air). This could eventually cause an in increase in the average global temperature
of 1.50 C to 4.5 0 C (Saralabai et al. 1997; IPCC 1996). The deep concern of scientific community on
increasing carbon emission due to developmental activities is strongly exposed in Kyoto Protocol. The
1997 Kyoto protocol, to the climate convention recognizes that the drawing of CO2 from the air into the
biomass is the only practical way for mitigation of the gas from the atmosphere. Trees function as the vital
sinks for atmospheric carbon i.e. carbon dioxide, since 50% of their standing biomass is carbon itself
(Ravindranath et al. 1997). Importance of forested areas in carbon sequestration is already accepted, and
well documented (FSI, 1988, and Tiwari and Singh, 1987). Bamboos with the vigorous growth and
sustainable yield can replace the woods in sequestering carbon. But hardly any attempts have been made
to study the potential of bamboos in carbon sequestration.
Some basic concepts of carbon sequestration
Global carbon is held in a variety of different stocks. Natural stocks include oceans, fossil fuel
deposits, the terrestrial system and the atmosphere. In the terrestrial system carbon is sequestered in rocks
and sediments, in swamps, wetlands and forests, and in the soils of forests, grasslands and agriculture.
About two-thirds of the globe’s terrestrial carbon, exclusive of that sequestered in rocks and sediments, is
sequestered in the standing forests, forest under-storey plants, leaf and forest debris, and in forest soils. A
stock that is taking-up carbon is called a “sink” and one that is releasing carbon is called a “source.” Shifts
or flows of carbon over time from one stock to another, for example, from the atmosphere to the forest,
are viewed as carbon “fluxes.” Over time, carbon may be transferred from one stock to another. Carbon
sequestration is the extraction of the atmospheric carbon dioxide and its storage in terrestrial ecosystems
for a very long period of time - many thousands of years.
Bamboo resources
Bamboo stands occupy an area of 36 million hectares worldwide which is equivalent to 3.2 percent
of the total forest area in the world. It is estimated that bamboo occupies over one percent of the tropical
and subtropical forest area - over 22 million ha. Over 80% of the total area covered by bamboo is located
in Asia, 10% in Africa and 10% in America. About 30% of bamboo may be classified as forest plantations
vs 3.8% of wood plantations. According to the FAO/INBAR global thematic study, over 63% of bamboo
Proceedings of National Workshop on Global Warming and its Implications for Kerala
129GLOBAL WARMING.... TREE IS THE ANSWER
resources are privately owned with 36% bamboo owned by governmental entities. In comparison 80% of
all world forests are on public lands. In Asia, India is the major bamboo producing country (almost 11.4
million hectares) which accounts for roughly half the total area of bamboo reported for Asia. There are
different reports on the number of genera and species of bamboo found in India. As per the latest compilation
18 genera and 128 species were reported (Seethalakshmi and Kumar 1998). The 18 genera found in
India are Arundinaria, Bambusa, Chimonobambusa, Dendrocalamus, Dinochloa, Gigantochloa,
Melocanna, Ochlandra, Oxytenanthera, Phyllostachys, Pleioblastus, Pseudosasa,
Pseudoxytenanthera, Racemobambos, Schizoztachyum, Sinarundinaria, Thamnocalamus and
Thyrsostachys. Of the total species found in India about 20 are commercially used.
Kerala is one among the major diversity centres of bamboo in the country and 22 species of
bamboos under seven genera have been recorded from this area. This comes to about 20 per cent of the
total bamboo distributed in India and 95 per cent of the total species reported from peninsular India
(Kumar and Ramesh, 1999). The total standing crop of bamboo in homesteads was estimated as 13.61
million culms and its green weight was 0.331 million tonnes during 2004-2005 (Muraleedharan et al.,
2007). Where as the bamboo resource in the forest areas was estimated as 2.63 million based on the
satellite imagery 1997.
Carbon sequestration potential of bamboo plantations and carbon trading
Bamboo has several advantages over tree species in terms of sustainability and carbon fixing
capacity. Bamboo is one of the most productive and fastest growing plants on the planet. The fastest-
growing species among the bamboos may grow up to 1.2 m a day. This unique growing capacity makes
bamboo a valuable sink for carbon storage. Dry matter accumulation by various bamboo species are
presented in the Table 1. The dry matter accumulation by Chusquea culeou (Chile) is in the tune of 156-
162 t ha-1 , while that of Phyllostachys pubescence (Japan), and Gigantochloa alter (Indonesia) is 138
ton ha-1 and 45 t ha-1, respectively. The lowest dry matter accumulation (0.35 ton ha-1) has been reported
by Bashania fangiana (China) (Table 1). In our common thorny bamboo, Bambusa bamboos the dry
matter accumulation at the age of 4, 6 and 8 has been reported to be 122, 225 and 286 t ha-1, respectively
and it is on par with the 10 year old fast growing Causarina equisetifolia (292.68 ton ha-1) or Eucalyptus
tereticornis plantation (254.97 ton ha-1) (Table 2). The per hectare biomass accumulation by the D.
strictus at the age of three years (Singh et al. 2004) is very high compared to that of Tectona grandis,
Dalbergia sisoo, Greveillea robusta or Acacia nilotica of ten year age. The above and below ground
biomass of bamboo is approximately in the ratio 3:1 and it is observed that the total carbon content
comprises usually about 50% of the total biomass. Unlike other woody crops, bamboo offers the possibility
of annual selective harvesting and its removal usually does not damage the total stock and environment. In
the last two decades bamboo has emerged as a valuable wood substitute and the carbon captured by
bamboos is sequestered effectively for a long time. The degree to which carbon is sequestrated in these
products depends on its durability. Over 90% of bamboo carbon can be sequestered in durable products
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Proceedings of National Workshop on Global Warming and its Implications for Kerala
such as boards, panels, floors, furniture, buildings, cloth, paper and activated charcoal. The decay resistant
litter produced by the bamboos also helps to sequester the carbon even though its contribution is small.
Bamboo plantations can play a major role in ‘carbon trading’ in a developing country like India.
‘Carbon trading’ which is also known as “cap and trade” is a method developed to reduce the carbon
emissions which contribute to global warming. Under this arrangement, Countries with the excess emissions
credits can sell their credits to the countries that find it difficult to reduce their own emissions. Reforestation
and afforestation projects are part of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which
facilitates the developed countries reach their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by investing in
Afforestation and Reforestation projects in developing countries in exchange for carbon credits. Bamboo
plantations has the immense potential for such carbon credits. Bamboo plantations, which are the great
carbon sinks have significant advantage over other biomass resources due to the species diversity, vigorous
growth, early establishment, adaptability to various soil and climatic conditions, short harvesting period,
sustainability in yield and its multifarious uses (over 5000 applications). Hence, it may be regarded as the
best among the biomass resources. The species diversity allows it to come up in any part of the world
(except poles) and to tolerate the climatic exigencies. Bamboo plantations are found to be suitable for
clear felled forest lands, degraded lands, boundaries of agricultural lands and non-agricultural lands and
other common property resources like coastal areas, road sides, canal banks, railway lines etc. It has
immense potential as a bio-energy resource which helps in the retention of carbon already sequestered in
the fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas and can save the vast natural forests.
However, the bamboo plantation establishment faces some serious constraints. The planting stock
availability is the major issue for all time because, most of the bamboo takes a long time to flower and
produce the seeds. Even when the seeds are produced they may not be fertile in some of the species and
some species even do not produce seeds. However, the vegetative propagation methods like offset planting,
culm and branch cutting, rhizome planting etc can be resorted to meet the planting stock demand. The
flowering of bamboos cause serious threat to the plantations as usually flowering is followed by death of
the entire culms. The nature of flowering (either gregarious or sporadic) and flowering period has to be
taken care of during initiating the plantation. The availability of land for massive bamboo plantation both in
forest land and homestead is yet another concern in Kerala.
Conclusion
Bamboos with their vigorous growth and adaptability can play a major role in carbon sequestration.
The biomass production and thereby the carbon sequestration potential of many of the Indian bamboos
are yet to be unravelled. If scientifically and intelligently managed, bamboo which owes an inherent fast
growth and thereby producing high biomass on a sustained basis can potentially act as the carbon sink and
contribute to the global climate change mitigation initiatives. In the present global climate change scenario
role of bamboos is being viewed with added emphasis
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131GLOBAL WARMING.... TREE IS THE ANSWER
References
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Table 1. Dry matter accumulation (above ground) by of different bamboo species in different locations
of the world.
Species Country Total biomass Reference
Mg/ha (age)
Bambusa bambos India 122 (at 4) Shamnughavel and Francis (1996)
225 (at 6)
287 (at 8)
241.7 (at 20) Kumar et al. (2005)
170.8 (at 3) Das and Chathurvedi (2006)
206.7(at 4)
257.25 (at 5
Bashania fangiana China 0.353 Zhou Shiqiang (1997)
Chusquea culeou Chile 156-162 Veblen et al. (1980)
Chusquea tenuiflora Chile 13 Veblen et al. (1980)
Dendroca lamus latiflorus Munro. China 28.49 Lin Yiming (2000)
Dendrocalamus strictus India 4 - 22 Tripathi and Singh (1994)
182.7-207.4 (at 3) Singh et al. (2004)
30 (at 3)36 (at 4)
49 (at 5) Singh and Singh (1999)
Dendrocalamopsis oldhami China 134.49 Lin Yiming (1998)
Gigantochloa ater; G. verticilata Indonesia 45 Christanty et al. (1996)
Guadua anguistifolia Colombia 54.3 (at 6) Riano et al. 2002
Phyllostachys pubescens Japan 138 Isagi et al. (1997)
B, cacharensis, B. balcooa
and B.vulgaris stand India 99.28 Nath et al. 2008
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Table 2. Biomass distribution in different multipurpose trees at the age of 10 years
Sl No. Species Total biomass ( t/ ha)
1Casurina equisetifolia 292.68
2Eucalyptus tereticornis 254.97
3. Tectona grandis 33.52
4. Dalbergia sisoo 29.18
5Greveillea robusta 101.42
6. Acacia nilotica 84.46
Source: Mutanal et al. 2007.
mmmmmm
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Proceedings of National Workshop on Global Warming and its Implications for Kerala
“Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a
machine gun.”
Paul Ehrlich,
Professor, Stanford University
... In tropical areas, bamboos are essential for their practical, economic and environmental services at the village and forest ecosystem level (Nath et al., 2009) and provide raw materials for the industries. With 11.4 million hectares of bamboo growing area under agrisilviculture systems and forests, India is the major bamboo-producing country in Asia (Nath et al., 2009;Seethalakshmi et al., 2009). In West Bengal, bamboos occur mainly as understorey vegetation in forests and grown in homegardens, mainly in the subhumid Himalayan foothill region or the Terai region (Chakravarty & Shukla, 2012). ...
... AGB contributed about 72% of the total standing biomass for all the ages of all the species, while the roots contributed 28%. The AGB and BGB of the bamboo were approximately in the ratio 3:1 (Singh et al., 2006;Seethalakshmi et al., 2009). Culm is the major contributor of both AGB and total plant biomass in all three-bamboo species. ...
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The average biomass accumulation in six year old B. balcooa, B. bambos, O. travancorica and T. oliveri clumps was to the tune of 116.079, 31.660, 12.145 and 99.067 kg and that of seven year old clumps was 159.935, 51.334, 17.731 and 111.286 kg, respectively. Among the clump components like culm, branch, leaf, rhizome and root, culms contributed major share of biomass accumulated in a clump. Annual productivity of B. balcooa, B. bambos, O. travancorica and T. oliveri between sixth and seventh years was 18.57, 7.07, 0.89, and 5.92 Mg ha-1 year-1 , respectively. Linear and exponential allometric models used to predict above ground biomass (culm, branch, leaf and total) using height and girth at breast height was found to be significant and the log: log allometric equations were the best fit in most of the cases. Carbon concentration of the clump components varied significantly irrespective of species and the average carbon concentration in the components was 40.53 per cent. Above ground biomass components recorded a higher carbon concentration than below ground in all the bamboo species. Carbon sequestration of B. balcooa at the age of six and seven years was to the tune of 22.34±6.87 and 30.66±10.01 Mg ha-1 and that of B. bambos was 7.19±0.53 and 10.33±2.58 Mg ha-1 respectively. Meanwhile, carbon sequestration of O. travancorica at the age of six and seven years was 2.690±0.14 and 3.02±0.23 Mg ha-1 and that of T. oliveri was 18.66±2.19 and 21.14±6.15 Mg ha-1, respectively. Soil also played an important role in carbon sequestration. Soil carbon content and density declined with increasing depth. Total carbon density of soil under B. balcooa, B. bambos, O. travancorica and T. oliveri at the age of seven was 56.95±4.34, 62.86±6.26, 46.28±4.31 and 54.02±3.17 Mg ha-1, respectively. Monthly litter production of four bamboo species varied at different ages. Annual Litter production at the age of six years was to the tune of 4.064, 3.340, 1.846 and 4.488 Mg ha -1 year-1 in B. balcooa, B. bambos, O. travancorica and T. oliveri, respectively. Litter production increased with age and the litter production at the age of seven years in B. balcooa, B. bambos, O. travancorica and T. oliveri was 5.087, 3.909, 2.227 and 5.522 Mg ha-1 year-1, respectively. A biphasic pattern of litter decomposition, comprising an initial rapid phase followed by a slower phase was observed in all bamboo species. Mass loss rate in different bamboo species exhibited a good fit to exponential decay model. Decomposition rate of litter mass in different bamboo species was in the order O. travancorica > B. balcooa > B. bambos > T. oliveri. Concentration (per cent) of nutrients in the litter mass retrieved at monthly intervals varied in four species and the nutrient content in general was lower towards the end of decomposition. Concentration of N, P, K, Ca and Mg in the residual litter mass was highly variable at monthly intervals. Nutrient (%) remaining in the litter calculated from nutrient concentration and litter mass remaining declined with time in the case of all the nutrients in general with some accumulation phases. The nutrient release from the decomposing litter mass of bamboo species was in the order Mg> N> Ca> P> K. Results of the study indicated the greater carbon sequestration potential of bamboos compared to some tree species and possible huge Certified Emission Reduction generation. Litter dynamics studies suggest that B. balcooa, B. bambos, O. travancorica and T. oliveri have tremendous potential in regulating soil nutrient pool through litter decay and nutrient release and therefore can help in soil nutrient restoration and there by ecosystem reconstruction. Nowadays, cultivation of bamboo in non-forest areas is in focus to enhance the resource base to meet the raw material requirements of large and small scale industries. The four species studied are included in the list of priority species by National Mission on Bamboo Applications. Planters also have shown great interest in these species. Hence, results of the study will be useful as it will throw light on performance of these four species in non-forest areas under Kerala conditions.
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