Bamboo is a mystical plant: a symbol of strength, flexibility, tenacity, and endurance. Throughout Asia, for centuries bamboo has been integral to religious ceremonies, art, music, and daily life. It can be found in paper, the brush, and the inspiration for poems and paintings. Some of the earliest historical records form the 2nd century B.C. were written on green bamboo strips.
Bamboo rightfully deserves its nickname, “the miracle plant.” It can be eaten, be used for creating housing, textiles, paper and even medicine, all while being incredibly beneficial to the environment. Bamboo related industries already provide income, food, and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide.
Fighting climate change and deforestation
Bamboo is the fastest growing canopy for the regreening of degraded lands, and its stands release 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees. Some bamboo even sequester up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare.
Sustainable, fast growing, strong alternative to timber
It can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 10-20 years for most softwoods. Bamboo tolerates extremes of precipitation, from 30-250 inches of annual rainfall.
With a 10-30% annual increase in biomass versus 2 to 5% for trees, bamboo creates greater yields of raw material for use. One clump can produce 200 poles in the three to five years. Bamboo generates a crop every year.
With a tensile strength superior to mild steel (withstands up to 52,000 pounds of pressure psi) and a weight-to-strength ratio surpassing that of graphite, bamboo is the strongest growing woody plant on earth with one of the widest ranging habitats. More than 1500 species thrive in diverse terrain from sea level to 12,000 feet on every continent but the poles. It also grows the fastest: it’s been clocked shooting skyward at 2 inches an hour. Some species grow one and a half meters a day!
Bamboo is the most COMMUNITY FRIENDLY timber on the planet. Why? Bamboo forestry is a labor intensive, human driven process. This means the poorest and most uneducated communities and people can learn and benefit within one year.
Bamboo in Indonesia
Indonesia is heavily forested, with nearly 68% of forest cover. This represents about 10% of the world’s tropical forests. Currently only 25,000 hectares of established bamboo plantations and more than 1 million hectares of sporadically planted and wild bamboo exist in Indonesia, randomly scattered across the archipelago.
Being an equatorial country, Indonesia reaps the benefits of consistent sunlight, water supply, rich volcanic soil, and favorable working conditions all year round. Indonesian bamboo grows twice as fast as Moso, the main species used in China. Indonesian clumping bamboo has a harvest yield almost double in dry weight per hectare in comparison to Chinese monopodial bamboo.
This is an amazing opportunity to support Indonesia, absorb carbon, restore ecosystems, support a healthy environment, reduce poverty and develop a sustainable economy. Go bamboo!
For more bamboo information, please visit bamboocentral.org, home to the Environmental Bamboo Foundation.