Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
We Can't Do It Without You!  
Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
Loss of Bamboo Threatens Rare Animal Species
Published on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 by Reuters
Loss of Bamboo Threatens Rare Animal Species
by Patricia Reaney

LONDON - Deforestation is endangering about a third of the world's 1,200 bamboo species and threatening rare animals such as giant pandas and mountain gorillas that depend on the plants for food and protection.

A joint report released on Tuesday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) warned that it would also harm a $2 billion a year bamboo industry and the millions of people who use the plants for food, housing, furniture and handicrafts.

"There are about 1,200 species of bamboo in the world and we think about a third of those may be threatened by the reduction of forest habitat within their ranges," Valerie Kapos, co-author of the study and ecologist at the UNEP World Monitoring Center in Cambridge, eastern England, told Reuters.

The report entitled "Bamboo Diversity" is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the impact of deforestation on bamboo species.

"It is the first time anyone has done this systematic assessment where they have worked all the way through a group of species and worked specifically at distribution and remaining habitat," Kapos explained.

The fates of Asia's giant pandas, which eat only bamboo, Africa's mountain gorillas, Madagascar's golden lemurs and the mountain tapir in South America as well as other animal and bird species are linked to bamboo.

"All over the world there are animals that are very, very closely connected with bamboo," said Kapos. "The mountain gorilla in Africa, at some times of the year, get between 70-90 percent of their diet from bamboo shoots."

Bamboo, which is a giant, woody grass, is called the "wood of the poor" in India and the "friend of the people" in China because of its diverse use in everything from food and cooking to furniture, paper, musical instruments, boats and houses.

A single bamboo clump can produce up to 9 miles of usable pole in its lifetime, according to INBAR.

Kapos, who described the report as a global wake-up call, used existing knowledge about the range of bamboo species and combined it with current forest distribution to determine the impact of deforestation on bamboo species.

She and her colleagues identified 250 woody bamboo species that have less than 2,000 square km of forest remaining within their growing range. It also pinpointed areas of high concentrations of bamboo in southern China, Madagascar and parts of the southeast Amazon and Atlantic forest of Brazil.

"Now we need to look much more closely at the dynamics of what is going on. We need to look more closely at the processes that are threatening the species, determine which species are the most threatened and take conservation action in the areas where those species are concentrated," Kapos added.

Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited.


Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article

  is an Internet-based progressive news and grassroots activism organization, founded in 1997.
We are a nonprofit, progressive, independent and nonpartisan organization.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Copyrighted 1997-2011