Applying the Natural Capital Protocol: Restoring Ecosystems in Northern Ghana
What is the problem?
Desertification poses an enormous threat to ecosystems and the animals, plants, and communities depending on it. In the west African country Ghana, an estimated 35% of the total land mass has already been turned into (semi-)desert land and the rate of desertification under current conditions is increasing every year. The main drivers of desertification in Ghana are deforestation, bush fires, overgrazing, and the creation of new farm land. Consequently, more and more land turns into desert which imposes a tremendous stress on the ecosystem and communities depending on it. The costs and consequences of inaction in Africa with respect to desertification are hence increasing every day, and the need for solutions that are ecologically effective and economically feasible, is high.
Through the development of bamboo plantations, the Dutch NGO Barbarugoo provides a cost-effective solution for desertification in Ghana. Bamboo is a plant that grows well on poor, degraded soils. It quickly develops an extensive root system that binds the soil, prevents erosion, supports water infiltration and creates a vast amount of organic material that fosters the re-fertilization of the soil. Furthermore, well-managed bamboo plantations have the potential to sequestrate 35% more carbon than hardwood trees, making it an effective solution for the high levels of carbon in the atmosphere.
Once planted, bamboo can restore already within one year some essential ecosystem services (see figure 1). Due to its vigorous growth rate, bamboo can develop within two years a vegetation level that prevents rain from evaporating and within 5-6 years the vegetation coverage can reach 100%. Its culms bend in high winds but usually do not break, thereby providing shelter and stabilizing soil formation. Bamboo has therefore proven its worldwide success as a crop with a high potential to restore landscapes.
From an economic perspective, bamboo provides a sustainable income for both the rural communities involved in harvesting the bamboo, as well for the local suppliers using the bamboo for further applications. The bamboo plant yields extremely strong, light and flexible culms that can be harvested in 6 years and that can be used in i.e. the construction, furniture and pharmaceutical industry. Barbarugoo is involved in the whole process of nursing, planting and maintaining the bamboo on its plantations in close collaboration with the local communities that are trained to learn more about maintaining the bamboo plantations.
Bamboo and its Ecosystem Services
- CLIMATE Bamboo has a carbon sequestration potential of 92 ton/ha where 60 ton of the carbon uptake is in the aboveground biomass (65%), and 32 tons is stored in the soil (35%).
- ECONOMY & SOCIETY. With a current market price of $0,17/kg, one hectare of bamboo can generate an income of $6120 per year – Bamboo plantations create many jobs for the communities involved in the maintenance and harvesting
- SOIL A single bamboo plant can bind up to 6 m3 soil, making it an excellent solution against soil erosion. The planting of bamboo re–fertilizes the soil and makes the earth more porous, so that roots can easiliy grow.
- WATER MANAGEMENT The roots of the bamboo plant allow water to infiltrate better into the soil, so that rainfall is better retained. One hectare of bamboo canstore over 30,000 liters of water in its culms, which it can gradually return to the soil.
- BIODIVERSIT. Bamboo plantations improve the habitat conditions for species that depend on bamboo for food, shadow, shelter and protection
An invitation to impact investors
Barbarugo provides a business case that is both ecologically and economically attractive. In 6 years, bamboo plantations can restore the main ecosystem services while at the same time generating an income of $6120/ha per year. Barbarugo seeks investors that want to embark on this business opportunity that has a significant impact on both healing vulnerable land and that provides a better future for the communities that depend on it.
RaboBank NL05RABO 0174 9693 41 Barbarugo, Waverveen, Netherlands