Abstract

This article is a bibliographic review on the ecological functions that distinguish bamboos, for which they deserve greater recognition and inclusion in ecological restoration programs. Bamboos are a highly diverse, geographically widespread and economically important plant group. Although they are more recognized by commercial uses, their potential for use in ecological restoration programs is promising, as they can be effective in delivery of several environmental services related to soil, water and carbon sequestration. Their rapid growth, along with their abilities to control erosion and maintain water at soil level, as well as provide nutrients by litterfall decomposition, make them a valuable group for recovery of degraded areas and in productive restoration of ecosystems, in particular via agroforestry systems. Agroforestry approaches can combine different bamboo species with other crops, to meet human needs while generating benefits for ecosystems. Similarly, bamboo forests or plantations together with mixed agroforestry systems can act as stepping-stones and biological corridors, in very fragmented landscapes by providing shelter and food for a wide diversity of organisms. Despite perceptions that bamboos can be invasive, evidence to support this is limited. We recommend careful evaluation of the biological characteristics of bamboo species selected, prior to deployment in productive restoration projects and for the recovery of environmental services.

Keywords: agroforestry systems, biological corridors, carbon sequestration, ecosystem rehabilitation, fast growth, litterfall, soil erosion control