Advice and Consultancy
Help on bamboo identification may be available through many international and national organisations, or from individuals, but it is often severely limited by staffing, experience or funding. Bamboo specialists are few in number, and those with taxonomic experience are even scarcer. Amateur bamboo societies are usually best informed as to where reliable advice can be sought locally.
The author has extensive experience of bamboo research and identification in Asia, Europe & the US. Contact Dr. Chris Stapleton for identification and consultancy services. More...
The lead international development organisation for bamboo (and also rattans) is the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) based in Beijing. The network was established by the Canadian development organisation IDRC in the 1980s, and works mainly through government institutions and NGOs in less-developed countries in which bamboos are of importance. It follows standard sustainable development principles expressed through well-established goals of improving livelihoods while protecting the environment. It is currently funded by IFAD and several other organisations. INBAR holds a database of specialists with local or regional expertise in bamboo subjects in different parts of the world, including taxonomy, biodiversity and conservation.
A further database of taxonomists is maintained by ETI, which is an NGO aiming to assist the scientific community in achieving world-wide access to quality taxonomic and biodiversity information, working with UNESCO and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
A small international organisation, which started as the International Bamboo Association, now the World Bamboo Organization, WBO, has become responsible for arranging the periodic bamboo conferences first initiated by INBAR, at which country status reports on taxonomy and biodiversity are periodically presented by member nations of INBAR. The proceedings of these conferences have continued to be edited and published by INBAR & IPGRI, and are available from their publications section. WBO has few other activities and scarce funding.
Nearly all bamboo biodiversity activities around the world have been national rather than international. This is one of main reasons why there are frequently different opinions on which names to apply. However, a recently established project at Iowa State University aims to collaborate internationally on higher level bamboo systematics at least, supported by the US science funding body, NSF. This bamboo phylogeny group includes many collaborating bamboo taxonomists from around the world.
Institutions with local expertise on bamboo identification can be found around the world, but may be difficult to locate. They are often forestry departments in less developed countries, especially when bamboos are widespread in state forests and are of economic importance. In many countries several institutions may be involved in bamboo identification related activities at different times. These may be botanical gardens, museums of natural history, horticultural organisations or schools, or university plant science, botany or forestry departments. Sometimes different institutions within one country can have surprisingly different approaches and opinions about which names to use for the same bamboo, especially in larger countries such as China and India. Many activities are short-term, especially in countries where bamboos are not part of the natural flora, and even the most respected institutions cannot be relied on to have relevant expertise. For example, In the UK there are 2 main botanical gardens, in Edinburgh and London (Kew). Taxonomic research is also undertaken at the Natural History Museum in London. The Royal Horticultural Society is also very active in horticultural activities.
Finding local bamboo expertise can be problematic. International databases of national institutions such as the INBAR database contain some information, but are not necessarily comprehensive or up to date. In more developed countries, national societies of bamboo enthusiasts are probably the best entry point, see ABS National Societies List.
The rise in interest in horticultural bamboo cultivation in recent years has led to a rise in organisations of amateur and commercial bamboo enthusiasts and suppliers in many countries. In Europe several small national bamboo societies exist, and these are loosely co-ordinated under the European Bamboo Society. In the USA, many Chapters representing different States or regions are combined within the federal American Bamboo Society. The ABS maintains annually updated lists of recommended names for the 200 or more bamboos in cultivation, with brief information and suppliers for each. It also supports a project to study and document bamboos in several C & S American countries, the Bamboos of the Americas Project, BOTA. The American Bamboo Society also has a substantial and growing international membership from outside the US.