The variety of bamboo that pandas depend on as a food source is different from the larger, industrial, woody variety that is used for flooring and furniture and generally grows in different provinces. Purchasing bamboo products therefore should not impact the panda's food resource.
In terms of the environmental impact, bamboo is fast-growing and therefore is often touted as an environmentally friendly choice. However, not all bamboo is necessarily sustainable or even environmentally preferable. A variety of factors should be considered when determining if a particular source of bamboo is an environmentally friendly choice, including:
- If the rate of the bamboo harvest is sustainable
- Whether natural ecosystems are being converted to bamboo plantations
- Whether harmful chemicals are used to maintain bamboo plantations
- Social and community impacts of bamboo plantations
Credible certification systems that include regular auditing can provide satisfactory answers to these questions. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is now available for bamboo plantation management and FSC certified bamboo is now available on the market. FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote environmentally, socially and economically responsible management of the world's forests. If you are considering purchasing bamboo products, WWF recommends ensuring that the bamboo is FSC certified by searching for the FSC logo on the product label. For more information about how to fine FSC certified products, please visit: http://www.fsc.org/buy-fsc-products.html.