Bamboo in North East India and its role in carbon sequestration
Bachaspatimayum Debkumari, PhD
India has the world’s largest fields of bamboo. It grows on nearly 13% of the country’s forest land. The eight North-eastern States – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – grow 67% of India’s bamboo and have 45% of global bamboo reserves. Nearly 35 species of superior quality bamboos are found in the region. Regional trade bodies say that Northeast is crucial for India to tap the estimated $10 billion market potential of bamboo. North East India is known as the home of Bamboo and occupies 54810 sq. km of area under bamboo cover which is about 39 per cent of the country’s total area. Among seven states of North-East India, Arunachal Pradesh occupies largest bamboo area (16,083 sq. km followed by Manipur (9,303 sq. km), Mizoram (9,245 sq. km) and Assam with 7,238 sq. km (FSI-2011). Bamboo forest plays an important role in in the socioeconomic development of people of the region. Management of the natural bamboo forests in the tropics should aim for sequestration of atmospheric CO2 for combating climate change.
Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere, underground, or the oceans so that carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere could be reduced. About two-thirds of terrestrial carbon is sequestered in the standing forest vegetation, forest debris, and in forest soils. Soil can be source or sink of greenhouse gases depending on land use and management. Carbon stored by plants through the process of photosynthesis exceeds the amount of carbon released through the processes of respiration and decomposition of organic matter. Soil is a major reservoir for carbon containing globally twice as much as atmosphere and three times as much as vegetation. The Kyoto Protocol proposed that C reduction could take place by reducing fossil fuel emissions, or by accumulating C in vegetation and in the soil of terrestrial ecosystems. Bamboo forests have an efficient carbon sequestration capacity and play an important role in responding to global climate change
Growing forest trees to sequester carbon is a relative inexpensive means to combating climate change. Carbon sequestration by growing forests has been shown to be a cost-effective option for mitigation of global climatic change. Bamboo has received increasing attention over the last two decades for its economic and environmental values. Because of its high ecological and socioeconomic versatility, and especially its great potential for carbon sequestration and its unique role in mitigating climate change bamboo has been receiving increasing attention in recent years. With its fast growth rate and high annual regrowth after harvesting, the bamboo forest has a high potential in sequestering carbon dioxide from atmosphere.
Bamboos are fast growing and attained maturity in 4/5 years. Thus bamboos can be significant sinks of atmospheric carbon (C) playing a critical role to mitigate climate change.
(Contributor: Dr Bachaspatimayum Debkumari is presently working as DST Women Scientist B at Department of Botany , Manipur University , she is the Founder of Midas Touch; she can be reached at email@example.com )