Bamboo is a versatile plant and has a short growth cycle. It can be harvested in 3-5 years, versus 10-50 years for most softwoods and hardwoods. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on this planet – it grows one third faster than the fastest growing tree. Some species grow as much as four feet a day. Thanks to its rapid growth, the yield (weight per acreage and year) is up to 25 times higher than that of timber.
Bamboo can be harvested and replenished with virtually no impact on the environment. It can be selectively harvested annually and is capable of regeneration without need to replant. There is a 3-5 year return on investment for a new bamboo plantation, versus 8-10 years for rattan, and even longer for other timber sources.
Bamboo is a viable replacement for wood. It is one of the strongest building materials, with a tensile strength that rivals steel and weight-to-strength ratio surpassing that of graphite. It withstands up to 52,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. With a 10-30% annual increase in biomass versus 2-5% for trees, bamboo creates greater yields of raw material for use. One bamboo clump can produce 200 poles in the five years it takes one tree to reach maturity.
Bamboo is a critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It helps reduce the carbon dioxide gases blamed for global warming. Some bamboo even sequesters up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare, which makes it an extremely efficient replenisher of fresh air. It is the fastest growing canopy for the re-greening of degraded areas and generates up to 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees.
Bamboo is a renewable resource for agro-forestry production. It is used to produce flooring, wall paneling, pulp for paper, fencing, briquettes for fuel, raw material for housing, cloth, and more. In the tropics it is possible to grow your own home. In Costa Rica, 1000 houses of bamboo are built annually with material coming only from a 60 hectare (150 acres) bamboo plantation.
Bamboo is also a natural control barrier. Because of its widespread root system and large canopy, bamboo greatly reduces rain runoff, prevents massive soil erosion, and keeps twice as much water in the watershed. Bamboo also helps mitigate water pollution due to its high nitrogen consumption, making it the perfect solution for excess nutrient uptake of wastewater from manufacturing, intensive livestock farming, and sewage treatment facilities.
Bamboo is a pioneering plant and can be grown in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agriculture techniques. Unlike most trees, proper harvesting does not kill the bamboo plant so topsoil is held in place. Additionally, because of its dense litter on the forest floor, it actually feeds the topsoil over time. This will provide healthy agricultural lands for other crops for generations to come.
Current research points to bamboo’s potential for a number of medical uses. Secretion from bamboo is used internally to treat asthma and coughs, and can be used as an aphrodisiac. Ingredients from the root help treat kidney disease. Roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal disease and cancer. The sap is said to reduce fever, and ash will cure prickly heat.
Clearly, bamboo is an amazing plant and we hope you will be inspired to support this burgeoning industry by seeking out bamboo papers, clothing, furniture, floors, and even homes built of bamboo.
If you would like to learn more about pre-fab bamboo houses, visit Bamboo Technologies: http://www.bambootechnologies.com/