As the Philippines joins the rest of the globe in celebrating the World Bamboo Day on Sept. 18, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) goes all out in promoting the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource.

Bamboo, which is considered today as the “green gold,” has been rapidly gaining momentum in recent years with no less than DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu attesting to its sustainability and durability.

In fact, Cimatu, a bamboo enthusiast, made a fresh pitch for the “wonder plant” when he recently appeared at a budget hearing in the House of Representatives.

According to the DENR chief, bamboo—one of the fastest growing renewable resources in the world—is not only a sustainable alternative to wood, but also an effective climate change solution.

He told lawmakers the direction of the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP), the government’s flagship reforestation initiative being implemented by the DENR, “is towards planting bamboo.”

“We intend to make amendments in the ENGP to increase the country’s production of bamboo,” Cimatu said, believing that the shift to bamboo would help improve the country’s forest cover.

For 2020 alone, Cimatu said the DENR targets to cover 16,867 hectares of land nationwide with bamboo trees.

Bamboo is valued for its ecological benefits. It absorbs greenhouse gases, insulates carbon dioxide from the environment and produces 35 percent more oxygen than its equivalent tree size.

The plant’s strong and extensive roots prevent soil erosion and landslides. It can hasten aquifer recharge in a watershed and is a source of food and biofuel in the form of charcoal and briquettes.

It is for these reasons why bamboo gets a well-deserved attention and support from the DENR which, through its Forest Management Bureau (FMB), has lined up activities for the entire month of September to raise public awareness on bamboo and its benefits.

FMB Director Lourdes Wagan said that due to the growing demand for bamboo, it rapidly transitioned from being a “poor man’s timber” to a sought after commodity now called “green gold.”
“This recognition of the increasing economic value of bamboo, and its vital role in forest recovery and climate change adaptation and mitigation are the reasons the DENR and FMB are taking part in this annual event,” Wagan said.

Most of the activities are done online in light of the continuing health threat posed by COVID-19. In all Mondays of the month, the FMB will be posting trivia or little known facts about bamboo on its official Facebook page.

It will also be conducting webinars and talks every Wednesday with DENR officials and other experts as guest speakers on various topics related to bamboo.

The highlight of the celebration will be the nationwide simultaneous bamboo planting, in which the kickoff event will be held at the Batasang Pambansa grounds in Quezon City on Sept. 18. It is jointly organized by the DENR’s Task Force Tayo Ang Kalikasan and the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC).

Among those expected to attend the event are Secretary Cimatu, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Deputy Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary William Dar and PBIDC Executive Director Rene Madarang.

Another highlight of the World Bamboo Day celebration is the virtual launch of Kilusang 5K (Kawayan, Kalikasan, Kabuhayan, Kaunlaran and Kinabukasan), an advocacy group formed to create awareness on bamboo and to back its development as a major industry and livelihood, as a rich and sustainable natural resource for food, and for environmental protection and preservation.

World Bamboo Day was established in 2009 by India’s Kamesh Salam during the 8th World Bamboo Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. Kamesh was the former president of the World Bamboo Organization, a group that promotes global information sharing on the environmental, socioeconomic, biological and cultural aspects of bamboo. #