How many kinds of bamboo do you know? One? Two?

Did you know that there are more than 1,500 bamboo species in the world, and many of these are found in the Philippines? Of the ones growing here, however, only a handful are popular and used commercially.

To optimize the use of the country’s rich bamboo resources, the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) has recently started a project that will uncover information on the basic properties of lesser-used local bamboos.

According to DOST-FPRDI’s Forester Oliver S. Marasigan, the research project aims to give the bamboo industry and plantation growers a wider range of options for bamboo plantation and reforestation projects. The results will be especially useful for those engaged in bamboo cultivation and processing, such as people’s organizations, private businesses and government agencies.

“The research will provide recommendations for the possible end-uses of selected lesser-used bamboos, such as Dragon bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus), Solid bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus), String bamboo (Gigantochloa apus), Iron bamboo (Guadua angustifolia), Yellow bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris var. striata), Thailand bamboo (Thyrsostachys siamensis), and Fishpole bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea). As we know, bamboo is one of the best alternative materials for timber as it is fast-growing with high carbon sequestration rate, and can be re-harvested without any harmful impact on the environment,” explained Marasigan.

The study will look into the form and structure of each species, their cells and tissues,as well as their physical and mechanical properties. Results will be published and will serve as inputs to a policy brief on their potential uses, whether as materials for construction, furniture, handicrafts, engineered bamboo, among others.

The Php 5 million research project is funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), and is in collaboration with the DENR-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB). ### (Apple Jean M. de Leon)