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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in partnership with the Climate Change Commission and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, is hosting a symposium and exhibit showcasing bamboo as a strategic tool to mitigate the effects of climate change and a driving force for sustainable economic development.

With the theme, "Bamboo for Resilience," the day-long National Symposium and Exhibit on Bamboo and Climate Change will be held on Monday, November 21, at the Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez will deliver a keynote address to discuss the DENR's plan to establish one million hectares of bamboo plantation in critical watershed areas and other sites covered by the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) within the next six years.

The ENGP aims to rehabilitate an estimated 7.1 million hectares of unproductive, denuded and degraded forestlands from 2016 to 2028.

Lopez is a member of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council, which was created under Executive Order No. 879 signed in 2010 by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to promote the development of the country's bamboo sector.

The national symposium on bamboo will bring together some 200 experts, policymakers and key stakeholders in the bamboo sector to discuss the role of bamboo in climate mitigation and how to increase its promotion as a suitable replacement for timber and other materials in construction and other works.

Other speakers include Senator Legarda, Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman of CCC, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Ilocos Sur Rep. Victorino Savellano.

Among the topics to be discussed are Bamboo Biology, Bamboo Utilization, Bamboo Enterprise, Bamboo Post-Harvest Technologies, and Policy and Advocacy Support for Bamboo.

Participants will have the opportunity to witness the various uses of bamboo and learn about the opportunities in the bamboo value chain, particularly in the establishment of community-based enterprises in rural areas.

Bamboo is among the fastest-growing plants, growing at up to one meter a day. It is considered a high value for mitigating climate change given its fast biomass production and renewability.

The resource plant has been proven to sequester more carbon at 400 percent per unit area and gives off 35 percent more oxygen than other trees. The bamboo dies if left unattended for more than 10 years.

However, if bamboo stems are harvested properly and at the right time, the root system survives and continues to store carbon as the harvested stems are being replaced.

Of the 1,000 species of bamboo on the planet, 49 of them grow abundantly in the Philippines. This gives the country the potential to become the second largest bamboo producer in the world, next only to China whose current market share is around 50 percent.

In 2009, the Philippines ranked sixth as the biggest exporter of bamboo products worldwide, with a total export value reaching US$30 million.

The international market value of commercial bamboo reached US$20 billion in 2015, owing to the growing demand for eco-friendly alternative to wood to conserve the world's remaining forests.

Bamboo can reach maturity in five years and can be harvested once every two years for about 100 to 120 years. It belongs to the Poaceae (Gramineae) family of grass, just like sugarcane and corn. #

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