September 18 is World Bamboo Day.

Modeled after Earth Day, World Bamboo Day is a day of celebration to increase awareness of bamboo and efforts for its sustainable utilization globally.

As the Philippines joins the rest of the globe in celebrating the World Bamboo Day, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) highlights the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource.

Bamboo is considered today as the “green gold” of the country’s forest and already part of DENR’s reforestation project in the country.

According to the DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, bamboo is one of the fastest growing renewable resources in the world, adding that it is not only a sustainable alternative to wood, but also an effective climate change solution.

The Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP), the government’s flagship reforestation initiative being implemented by the DENR, “is towards planting bamboo,” according to Cimatu.

“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.

From 2011 to 2019, the DENR has already established 84,000 hectares of land for bamboo and that next year, the agency is targeting to plant more than 50 percent of their target.

For 2020 alone, 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. The department’s 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.

“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. On 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, which has its kickoff event at the Batasang Pambansa grounds in Quezon City earlier this day. 

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 to support 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.