MALDIVES — The Atmosphere Foundation, in collaboration with The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology (MoECCT) and the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture (MoFMRA), is embarking on a bold initiative known as the 'Bamboo for Climate Mitigation' project. This ground-breaking endeavour will utilize bamboo, a plant renowned for its ability to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, in a bid to move Maldives closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.
The project is led by the Vice President of the Atmosphere Foundation and involves two crucial aspects: large scale bamboo seedling plantations across the Maldivian islands and an extensive seed germination and propagation program.
The initiative will begin with the arrival of 500 bamboo seedlings towards the end of May. The MoECCT will distribute half of these seedlings to community islands, while the MoFMRA will oversee distribution to industrial islands. Formalization of this collaboration will be marked by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Atmosphere Foundation and MoECCT.
Private individuals have generously donated bamboo seeds, significantly contributing to the project's sustainability. The two seed varieties received, Bambusa bambos and Dendrocalamus strictus, have shown promising germination rates in just 12 days, though typical germination takes 30 to 40 days.
A range of stakeholders, including government authorities, private organizations, and communities, are set to actively engage in the program, thus ensuring its long-term sustainability. The Atmosphere Core Pvt Ltd resorts have also joined the cause, incorporating bamboo into their landscaping programs.
This project comes at a pivotal time as Maldives, according to the MoECCT, has 36 islands with less than 30% green cover due to rising housing and urbanization demands. This initiative aligns with the Maldives' commitment under the Paris Agreement's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the 2021 Climate Emergency Act (9/2021) to tackle this pressing issue.
To foster awareness about this project and its broader implications, a seminar titled 'Working Towards Carbon Neutral Maldives with Bamboo' will be delivered by Dr Nambi Barathi, Founder Director of Growmore Biotech Ltd, and a global authority on bamboo. Dr Barathi's extensive research led to the development of a superior clone of Bambusa balcooa, or Beema bamboo. This fast-growing variant can yield 40 tons of dry bamboo from 1 acre annually, capturing over 88 tons of carbon dioxide and releasing over 60 tons of oxygen.
The potential of bamboo for climate change mitigation is immense, given its ability to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at a higher rate than other plants, in addition to its potential as a sustainable commodity in agriculture and other industries. Its versatility, combined with its high carbon absorption rate, make it an ideal candidate to help restore green cover to the 36 Maldivian islands currently facing a deficit.
In addition to its environmental benefits, bamboo also holds tremendous economic potential. Its high tensile strength makes it a valuable resource in construction, and its varied applications extend to thermal use, liquid fuel for vehicles, textiles, and the arts and crafts industry. Bamboo-made products such as mats, homeware, kitchen utensils, furniture, bags, jewellery, and more have already made their mark on the consumer market.
This bamboo initiative serves as a monumental stride towards the mitigation of climate change, not only providing a solution for the green cover shortage in Maldives but also contributing to the global fight against climate change.