Climate Change: Planting Bamboos

In the Philippines, the missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) are committing to plant 100,000 seedlings of Bamboo by 2022. With an ambitious goal for planting 1 billion bamboos by 2030, collaborating with the local churches of parishes and dioceses in the Philippines. But why Bamboo?

The first reason is climate change. Bamboo absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than an ordinary tree. A hectare of Bamboo absorbs 12 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Second, bamboos prevent erosion and flooding. A clump of Bamboo will absorb 30,000 litres of water annually.  The third reason is that the Bamboo is useful for livelihood. The shoots are processed and bamboo poles are made into furniture and construction material.

The Filipino government estimates that if we plant a billion bamboos, this will result in 15 billion dollars in annual income. We believe that this is a conservative estimate. We think it will reach up to 25 billion dollars annually if we put the right factories in the right places and have massive bamboo planting.

As Missionaries, we have the hope that we can do this; that we can plant a billion bamboos, absorb gigatons of carbon dioxide from the air, give jobs to a lot of people, and prevent erosion and flooding, which caused a lot of damage to property and even to life.

We therefore would like to call on everyone in the whole Philippines and in the whole world to join us. We are now partnering with the Global Climate Action Project, and they are making an App for us with a geotagging feature to monitor the number of bamboos planted. After joining our baseline data, you can see it in Google Maps afterwards. So, we would like to thank the many people in our bamboo advocacy.

We hope to make a difference because otherwise, climate change will become irreversible. We have no other choice. This is the only planet that we have. Let us take Care of it for ourselves and future generations.

The scientists are saying the year 2030 is the deadline. We must keep global warming at no more than 1.5°C by 2030; otherwise, climate change will become irreversible. We now know that the bamboo can help mitigate climate change, prevent erosion and flooding, and increase people’s economic profit and well-being, especially that of the poor.

Planting one billion bamboos is not an idle dream. In the Philippines, we are responsible only for 2% of greenhouse gases, but we will be the first ones to be hit by super typhoons. We believe, first of all, that awareness is widespread. Secondly, the government has said that every village is to have a seedling nursery. And there is a law called The Philippine Bamboo Industrial Development Act.

The government will fund the seedling nurseries, supporting the building of factories to produce engineered Bamboo. Logging is already outlawed in the Philippines. It’s forbidden to cut a tree without permission from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

We have made our move. As missionaries, we have decided to have 100,000 bamboo seedlings planted by 2022. One interesting initiative is that elementary, high school and college graduates cannot graduate and are not given their diplomas if they do not plant ten trees each. So that’s it.

That would be a lot because we have 28 million elementary school students. How many will graduate? Then we have college graduates also. We really believe that this is doable. We may not succeed but it is possible. It is not an impossible dream to plant 1 billion bamboos in the Philippines, absorb gigatons of greenhouse gases, prevent erosion and flooding, the loss of lives and property and give jobs to thousands of people. The government is already mobilizing. They only need some help from the developed countries responsible for most of the greenhouse gases that plague us now, especially in the Philippines.

The churches are also mobilizing. Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Ledesma, said he would talk to all the bishops so that the whole diocese and all the dioceses in Mindanao may help in this bamboo advocacy.


(Benigno B. Beltran)

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