04 Dec Why bamboo is better for the planet than trees.
Bamboo is an amazing plant. When you look at all its properties, it is more sustainable, uses less of the earth’s precious resources, is kinder to the soil and consumes less energy in harvesting and transport.
Where do all the wonders of bamboo begin? Well for a start, it’s the fastest growing plant on earth.
Growing faster means it is ready for use more quickly than timber which saves on the earth’s precious resources. Bamboo grows with minimal energy needs, essentially all it needs is sunlight and water of which it consumes far less during its rapid growth.
Bamboo is happy to grow almost anywhere. There are many places on earth where the soil is not good enough to grow timber or even other crops. Either the soil is too dry, too wet, too sandy or has too much clay.
Bamboo will happily grow in many places that other plants will not, because it can tolerate greater extremes of moisture or dryness. It can also grow on what are called “marginal” lands or land that has already been heavily “worked over”. (In fact, it has been stated that bamboo will grow on any continent on earth, except for Antarctica!)
It will also grow on more steeply sloped land that would not normally support a timber plantation.
Bamboo is a self-regenerating natural resource that grows in a more sustainable way than timber. Bamboo grows from an underground root system, so when you cut down one bamboo pole, another grows in its place. You do not need to harvest the entire plant, as bamboo just keeps producing new shoots, providing an almost continuous growth of new bamboo poles.
Bamboo can grow without the need for fertilisers and pesticides. This means it is kinder to the soil than large scale timber plantations. Bamboo also does a better job of preventing soil erosion than timber does, due to its complex root systems. It also retains more moisture in the soil. So, the earth is enhanced by growing bamboo, not depleted by it.
When it comes time to harvest bamboo, the process is very simple as bamboo is so light. Instead of using huge, heavy duty equipment that burn large amounts of fossil fuels, bamboo can often be harvested by hand and transported by the most simple and rudimentary ways. In many places it can be carried by hand or put on simple carts drawn by animals. Meaning less energy is used for transportation.
In many parts of the world where bamboo is grown it is simply cut down and carried to nearby villages and towns where it is put to use.
The growth, harvesting and processing of timber however is a vast industry. Timber plantations require vast amounts of fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides unlike bamboo. They also often lead to soil erosion, depletion of nutrients and the drying out of soils.
If we utilised more bamboo and less timber, we would be being kinder to the earth in so many ways.