Philippines Eyes Reforestation Using Bamboo to Mitigate Floods

The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) is establishing collaborative efforts with infrastructure and public works agencies to use bamboo as a key element in controlling floods in Metro Manila.

In an interview, DA undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano said bamboo can be used to rapidly reforest uncovered areas in and around the Southeast Asian country’s capital to alleviate consistent flooding, the Philippines News Agency reports.

“We all know the severity of our problem with flooding. The best solution is to plant plenty of bamboo in strategic areas because it is the fastest-growing plant, and we can quickly reforest. It will absorb water and hold the soil to prevent erosion. It also produces 35% more oxygen than other trees, helping control urban pollution,” he said.

Savellano said his agency is exploring non-indigenous varieties of bamboo for its fast-tracked flood mitigation vision, as some varieties can potentially grow up to one metre per day.

He also cited the availability of Guada Bamboo from Latin America, one hectare of which can absorb more than 30,000 litres of water in its culms during the rainy season which it gradually deposits back in the soil during the dry season.

Aside from its environmental usefulness, the DA official said that the DA’s bamboo propagation push also promises fresh livelihood opportunities to Filipino farmers.

However, he added bamboo’s economic potential can only be fully exploited if local farmers are taught to go beyond mere growing and harvesting the plant.

Savellano earlier proposed the establishment of “Bamboo Villages,” which was summed up as a business model wherein the land, labor, and other resources of rural towns may be harnessed for the growing, harvesting, and eventually, the processing of high-value finished products from “engineered bamboo.”

Savellano added that the DA’s thrust of bamboo propagation is also in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The calls for bamboo propagation are given extra significance in view of September being the Philippines’ official “Bamboo Month.”