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Bamboo Overview | GreenPot
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Bamboo Overview

Bamboo is a grass belonging to the subfamily Bambusoideae. It is a special source of timber as it is a self-generating natural resource with shoots growing annually. There are over 1200 species grown worldwide. The utility of bamboo has increased tremendously in the last decade with both rural and modern industries growing as a result.

Research shows that bamboo has potential to significantly impact the economy of a society. Bamboo requires a modest capital investment and can generate steady income for investors. One reason for this is it has a shorter growth cycle- can be harvested in three years.

Bamboo Versus Other Trees

Bamboo has stronger reproduction abilities than most tree species- it can therefore be grown without fertilizers

Its fast growing qualities allows harvest in three years; other fast growing species like eucalyptus and acacia take 6-10 years and red pine 10 years

Bamboo is stronger than most hardwoods- it has high tensile strength than some alloys of steel and compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete

Most trees used for timber take 30-50 years to regenerate to their full mass, a pole of bamboo on the other hand can actually fully regenerate in 6 months

Fun fact - Bamboo cannot be digested by termites due to the high silica content in its fibres.

Bamboo Around the World

Bamboo is an important source of wood mass in many parts of the world due to its fast rate of growth, the huge variety of uses, its strength, and the diverse soil and climatic conditions where it grows optimally.

Many Asian and South American countries have had an engagement with bamboo running over thousands of years but in Africa, bamboo is only just beginning to claim its place in commercial farming. Ethiopia has started processing bamboo using existing natural forests for raw materials, while Ghana is slightly ahead of Kenya in the establishment of commercial bamboo plantations.

Globally, there are concerted efforts to popularize commercial bamboo farming as a response to the growing demand for wood products. In India, for example, the National Bamboo Mission has been set up to "address issues relating to the development of bamboo in the country" following the realization of its "vast untapped potential".

Bamboo Uses

Bamboo, whose harvesting begins just three to four years after planting, is processed for over 1500 uses, including:

Production of construction materials such as plywood, veneer, block board, scaffolding and high-end flooring tiles

Making of charcoal, briquettes, pellets and other green energy products

Manufacture of furniture, paper, clothes and a variety of household accessories

Production of fencing posts, props for use in horticultural farms and in some cases, manufacture of electricity poles

In many communities, bamboo shoots are a popular delicacy, loved for their taste and nutritional value

Bamboo is very good soil conservation. With its widespread root system, it can provide an effective erosion control. It sustains riverbanks and serves as good windbreaks

Besides protecting the environment, bamboo cleanses the air we breathe. Its stands release 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees. Some bamboo can sequester up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare. It can also lower light intensity and protects man against ultraviolet rays

Bamboo is a highly renewable material. There is no need to replant once the clump is already established. It produces new shoots on a regular basis that develop depending on species, into erect culms reaching 30 meters tall

A stunning statistic regarding bamboo is that you can harvest more wood mass from an acre in five years than you can get from almost any other tree variety on similar land space in 40 years. This defines its great economic potential

Bamboo is the main material for construction of houses, and an estimated 1 billion houses around the world, particularly in Asia, are wholly made of bamboo

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