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Bamboo environmental benefits

July 12, 2010

Today, almost 1 million acres of forest vanish per week.  This alarming rate of deforestation has forced many world economies to rethink their business and manufacturing practices.  A sixty-foot tree cut for market takes 60 years to replace.  Meanwhile, a sixty-foot bamboo cut for market takes 59 days. Bamboo is officially recognized as the world’s fastest growing plant and has a tensile strength comparable to steel.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth.  It is known to produce greater biomass and 30% more oxygen than a hardwood forest of comparable size, while improving watersheds, preventing erosion, restoring soil, providing sweet edible shoots and removing toxins from contaminated soil.  Ecologists tout bamboo as a renewable source of food and building material.  Many promote bamboo planting for erosion prevention, and even to reverse the effects of global warming.

Bamboo helps reduce carbon dioxide gases blamed for global warming. Some bamboo sequesters up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare, which makes it a highly efficient plant, and conducive to fresh air.  Bamboo can be selectively harvested annually and regenerates without replanting.

Bamboo is a natural water control barrier. Because of its wide spread root system and large canopy, bamboo greatly reduces rain run off, prevents massive soil erosion and keeps twice as much water in a watershed. Bamboo helps mitigate water pollution due to its high nitrogen consumption, making it a solution for excess nutrient uptake of wastewater from manufacturing, livestock farming and sewage treatment.

Bamboo can restore degraded lands. It is a pioneering plant and can be grown in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agriculture. Proper harvesting does not kill the bamboo plant, so topsoil is held in place. Because of its dense litter on the forest floor it feeds topsoil, restoring healthy agricultural lands for generations to come.

Typical hardwood lumber trees, such as the ones used in conventional wood flooring, take 30-50 years to regenerate. In the meantime, there is less oxygen produced, less carbon dioxide consumed, and more soil runoff in the spot where that tree was harvested – all producing negative environmental effects.  Our biosphere is suffering from resource depletion, habitat loss, species extinction, and ecosystem pollution, suggesting sustainability is not enough.

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