Box 2.3 FRA 2005 thematic study on bamboo

Bamboo is an integral part of tropical and subtropical forests, and bamboo resources have increasing importance in poverty alleviation and sustainable development of the rural poor. These species continue to play a crucial role in Asia, while their use is rapidly growing in Africa and Latin America. Bamboo is moving out of the craft-industry phase and now provides raw material for preindustrial processing and for industry products (bamboo shoots, construction poles, panelling and flooring products, pulp, etc.), thus gaining significance as both an internationally traded commodity and a tool for livelihood and industrial development.

A first attempt at assessing the extent of bamboo resources at the global level was made by FAO and UNEP as part of FRA 1980, for which 13 countries provided estimates. The FRA 2005 thematic study on bamboo is a joint effort of FAO and the international Network for Bamboo and rattan (INBAR). The inclusion of bamboo among the seven thematic studies under FRA 2005 seeks to raise awareness of the value, dynamics and importance of the bamboo sector – attracting investment and formulating and redesigning forest policies.

Following the general methodology of the FRA 2005 country reports, the specifically designed bamboo reports included information on the extent and characteristics of bamboo resources, ownership, growing stock, and amount and value of removals. The information provided by 22 country reports was analysed, reviewed and, where needed, complemented by additional information from a literature search and expert consultations. Two workshops were organized to discuss the design of the study and then the preliminary results. Additional information was obtained from the Production to consumption studies already carried out by INBAR in various countries. With the integration of existing information through a systematic data-collection procedure, the thematic study constitutes a focused investigation into the extent of bamboo resources on a global scale.

The quality and quantity of the information varied significantly among regions, with a richer contribution from Asian countries as compared with Africa and Latin America. This was hardly a surprise: it is in the Asian region that bamboo has had the longest tradition of use and where it has a fundamental role today for a significant portion of the population. However, Africa and Latin America are quickly developing greater interest in bamboo resources and their potential, and several country representatives of these regions highlighted the need for more systematic investigation and assessment.

Due to the scattered nature of the data provided and the ongoing analysis, only preliminary results can be offered here. Sixteen countries in Asia reported a total of roughly 25 million hectares of bamboo forest. Major contributors were India (9 million hectares) and China (5 million hectares), followed by Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. In this region, bamboo forests constitute approximately 4 percent of the total forest cover, with peaks of over 10 percent for India, Laos and Sri Lanka. Although the information gathered from Africa is still partial, six countries reported a total of approximately 3 million hectares of bamboo forest, with Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria showing the largest areas. In Latin America, at least ten countries have significant bamboo resources, although precise assessments have not yet been done. A total of 11 million hectares is considered a realistic estimate for the region, with Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico among the richest in these resources. information on other characteristics of bamboo forests and the amount and value of removals will be presented in the thematic study, to be released during 2006.

Bamboo is often intermixed with other species or is cultivated outside forests, along village and farm boundaries, which presents a challenge to the study. for this reason, the ‘bamboo forest’ can have different definitions. in addition, most harvesting and trade occur locally among villages, with no official records. These combined factors explain why current bamboo resource statistics are inconsistent, fragmented and in need of upgrading. Nevertheless, steps to improve the availability of quantitative data have been made by several countries, in recognition of the importance of bamboo to poverty alleviation, forest conservation and economic and environmental development. The main value of this study is thus the development of a systematic methodology for the recording of bamboo forest characteristics and sector data

Source & © FAO  Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, Progress towards sustainable forest management,
Chapter 2: Extent of forest resources, p.29

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Other Figures & Tables on this publication:

Table 1.1: FRA 2005 reporting tables

Table 1.2: Indicative linkages among reporting tables and thematic elements of sustainable forest management

Table 1.3: Key statistics for regions and subregions used in FRA 2005

Table 2.1: Distribution of forests by subregion

Table 2.3: Forest cover by subregion 2005

Table 2.8: Carbon stock per hectare 2005

Table 2.10: Trends in carbon stocks in forest biomass 1990–2005

Table 3.3: Area of forest designated primarily for conservation of biodiversity 2005

Table 4.1: Average area of forest annually affected by fire 1998–2002

Table 4.3: Average area of forest annually affected by insects 1998–2002

Table 4.4: Average area of forest annually affected by diseases 1998–2002

Table 4.7: Average area of forest annually affected by other disturbances 1998–2002

Table 5.1: Area of forest designated primarily for production 2005

Table 5.7: Forest area and growing stock 2005

Table 5.13: Removals of four categories of Non-Wood Forest Products 2005 (tonnes)

Table 6.2: Area of forest designated primarily for protection 2005

Table 5.8: Commercial growing stock 2005

Table 6.3 Total area of forest designated for protection 2005

Table 7.2: Value of wood removals 2005

Table 7.4: Value of Non-Wood Forest Products removals 2005

Table 7.6: Number of people employed in forestry in 2000

Table 7.8: Ownership of forest area 2000

Table 8.2: Trends towards sustainable forest management at the global level

Table 8.3 Trends towards sustainable forest management in Africa

Table 8.4: Trends towards sustainable forest management in Asia

Table 8.5: Trends towards sustainable forest management in Europe

Table 8.6: Trends towards sustainable forest management in North and Central America

Table 8.7: Trends towards sustainable forest management in Oceania

Table 8.8: Trends towards sustainable forest management in South America

Table 8.9: Trends towards sustainable forest management by subregion

Table 5.10: Trends in commercial growing stock 1990–2005

Figure 1.1: Regional and Subregional breakdown used in FRA 2005

Figure 2.2: The world’s forests

Figure 2.3: Ten countries with largest forest ares 2005 (million ha)

Figure 2.5: Forest Change Dynamics

Figure 2.9: Forest characteristics 2005 (%)

Figure 2.12: Total Carbon Stock (C) in forests by region 2005

Figure 3.3: Ten countries with the largest area of primary forest 2005 (%)

Figure 3.11: Number of native forest tree species

Figure 3.13: Average number of threatened tree species by region

Figure 5.5: Ten countries with largest area of productive forest plantations 2005 (%)

Figure 5.8: Five countries with greatest total growing stock 2005 (%)

Figure 5.10: Five countries with largest volume of wood removal 2005 (%)

Figure 6.1: Information availability – protective functions of forest resources

Figure 7.7: Ownership of forests by subregion 2000

Figure 8.1: Designated functions of forests globally 2005 (%)

Figure 8.2 Distribution of subregional trends

Forest cover by subregion 2005 and distribution

Box 1.1 Thematic elements of sustainable forest management

Box 2.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on planted forests

Box 2.2 FRA 2005 thematic study on mangroves

Box 2.3 FRA 2005 thematic study on bamboo

Box 4.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on forest fires

Box 4.2 FRA 2005 thematic study on forest pests

Box 6.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on forests and water

Box 7.1 FRA 2005 thematic study on forest ownership and resource tenure