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Bamboo: A Mechanism to Reconnect Forest Fragments and Restore Ecosystems

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The Bonn Challenge aims to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020. Commercial bamboo plantations can help achieve these goals by serving as an alternative to traditional timber and as a resource to stimulate national and local economies and reduce foreign imports.

Bamboo is a rapidly growing grass that can tolerate poor soils. With over 1,400 species, selection of suitable species can reforest areas, restore degraded lands, and provide financial benefits. Planting bamboo is particularly important in locations where a return to pure or mixed forested areas is not realistic. In a landscape mosaic approach, bamboo is planted in areas that combine forests and trees with other land uses.

Bamboo can support restoration efforts through soil protection and slope stabilization. Clumping bamboo’s complex root systems helps regulate water tables, contributing to filtration and watershed protection and protecting against soil erosion and runoff. Shade produced by bamboo moderates the microclimate and increases rainfall while the multilevel ecosystem increases biodiversity.

In Nicaragua’s Atlantic region, forested areas were completely cleared in the 1970s and 1980s for low intensity cattle ranching and, more recently, for crops like oil palm. Only 15% of the Atlantic region’s natural forest cover remains.

EcoPlanet Bamboo has planted Guadua aculeata, a native clumping bamboo, in and around trees and between remnant forest patches on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast. While running (or Monopodial) bamboo, such as the Chinese favorite Moso, creates large single species ecosystems, tropical clumping (or Sympodial) bamboo often forms part of the natural forest ecosystem. Guadua aculeata is better able to tolerate the region’s extreme rainfall and compacted soil than native tree species.

In contrast to traditional tree plantations, which remove large areas of timber during harvesting, bamboo plantations can remove individual culms from bamboo plants annually, an approach that stimulates growth and ensures a continuous canopy cover. Because these individual culms die naturally, their removal has little effect on forest composition, ensuring minimal disturbance to forest landscapes. In a natural Guadua aculeata stand, approximately 30% of mature culms would die annually.

Under a business as usual scenario, the pastureland and forest remnants that are part of EcoPlanet Bamboo’s operations would have continued to degrade. Around the bamboo farms, deforestation for cattle farming and oil palm production has continued, expanding the agricultural frontier, with negative consequences for biodiversity and the surrounding ecosystems.

Through its operations, EcoPlanet Bamboo is restoring more than 8,500 acres of degraded pastureland in Nicaragua, reconnecting forest fragments and regenerating degraded soil, enabling increased levels of biodiversity at the soil and litter level. This process contributes to a diverse landscape mosaic that connects biodiversity corridors and expands wildlife habitat.

Bamboo can facilitate landscape connectivity, restore degraded areas and soils, enhance biodiversity, and avoid further deforestation of primary forests, actions called for in the Bonn Challenge. Moreover, bamboo achieves these benefits in an economically viable way, through job creation and improved livelihoods, which further reduces pressure on remnant forests because local communities no longer clear the forest for subsistence agriculture.

In contrast to Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) or donor aid, EcoPlanet Bamboo’s operations, which are working to restore more than 100,000 acres globally in Latin America and Africa, provide a private sector mechanism for achieving landscape restoration and improving local livelihoods. While PES or carbon schemes can provide initial financing, bamboo projects become self-sustaining after bamboo reaches maturity, typically after five to seven years.

As governments around the world work to meet conservation commitments and companies seek to identify sustainable sources of timber, bamboo should be considered as a resource that can simultaneously achieve these goals.

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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