By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

The bamboo tree and flood control

September 6, 2023, 4:41 pm

“Sometimes the best things are right in front of you…” - Gladys Knight

We often fail to see the value and importance of the seemingly ordinary and simple objects around us. There are many things we consider mundane that possess more value than we realize. Take the humble bamboo tree, for instance. We see this tree everywhere but only a few people know its true worth.

A few days ago, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture announced that the agency would be pushing for “collaborative efforts with infrastructure and public works agencies to use bamboo as a key element in controlling floods in Metro Manila.”

With the recent heavy rains and resulting floods, the DA spokesperson said bamboo can be used to “rapidly reforest denuded areas in and around the metropolis to mitigate floods, such as the ones triggered by heavy rains earlier this week.”

The bamboo tree as a key element in flood control is not a new concept. In some other countries like Uganda and Sierra Leone, they have recently planted bamboo trees near riverbanks to act as flood walls as part of their flood mitigation program.

The bamboo tree is perfect for countries that wish to set up natural flood control projects. It is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Some say it can grow 1.5 inches or 4 cm per hour. As such, reforestation programs can be done more quickly with bamboo trees.

The roots of the bamboo trees when planted in sufficient quantities, can stabilize the soil (prevent soil erosion) and temper the speed and strength of water passing through it. There is even a type of bamboo tree called the Guada Bamboo from Latin America that has the ability to absorb a higher amount of water in its culms during the rainy season which it then gradually deposits back in the soil during the dry season.

Other than flood control, bamboo tree forests can help prevent landslides and produce approximately more oxygen than some other trees. The bamboo trees can also provide livelihood to communities.

In order to effectively use bamboo forests to combat flood, we must again use a “whole of nation” approach. Ordinary farmers or communities alone often lack the training and resources to effectively plant, harvest and process bamboo. The government needs a program director who can effectively coordinate various agencies and private groups to implement this project. It is not a very complex program. All it takes is again cooperation and drive.

Every time rainwater floods our streets, “experts” start proposing several complicated and expensive solutions. Unfortunately, these so-called solutions never solve or sufficiently mitigate the problem. Maybe it is time to start with the simple things and use them to create solutions to our problems.

This is my oblique observation.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.