Bamboo is the answer … what was the question?
- The Fastest growing woody plant on this planet. It grows one third faster than the fastest growing tree. Some species can grow up to 1 meter per day. One can almost “watch it grow”. Size ranges from miniatures to towering culms of 60 meters or 180 feet.
- Producing four to five time more bio-mass than trees felled for wood production. Bamboo is ready for harvesting within 3 to 5 years versus oak, cherry, maple and exquisite rain forest hardwoods, that in some cases, take more than 100 years to grow to maturity.
- Bamboo is giant grass and Amazingly versatile with a short growth cycle. There are over 1000 species of bamboo on the earth. This diversity makes bamboo adaptable to many environments. Bamboo is capable of tolerating extremes in precipitation. The acceptable range or rainfall is from 30 to 250 inches of rain annually.
- Bamboo is on of the strongest building materials in the World. Bamboo’s tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel.
- A critical element in the balance of oxygen/carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Bamboo is the fastest growing canopy for the re-greening of degraded areas. Bamboo generates more oxygen than the equivalent stand of trees.
- A soil conservation tool. Bamboo has anti-erosion properties that create an effective watershed. The rhizomes stitch the soil together along fragile areas. First re-greening in Hiroshima after the atomic blast in 1945.
- A critical element of the economy. Bamboo and its related industries already provide income, food and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide. There is a 3 – 5 years return on investment for a new bamboo plantation versus 8 – 10 years for rattan.
- A renewable resource for agro forestry products. Bamboo is a high-yield renewable natural resource. Ply Bamboo is now being used for wall paneling, floor tiles. Bamboo pulp is used for paper making; briquettes and fuel. Bamboo can be used as a Raw material for housing construction and rebar for reinforced concrete beams.
- An essential structural material in earthquake architecture. In Limon Costa Rica only the Bamboo houses from the National Bamboo Project stood after the violent earthquake of 1992.
Guadua Bamboo is a renewable resource – In comparison to old growth wood timbers, bamboo is ready for harvest in a very short period of time (3-6) years. It takes at least 20 years for common yellow pine to be considered for felling. Guadua bamboo has the the advantage of regenerating it self after it has been responsibly harvested and cared for.
An incredible giant grass – Guadua Angustifolia is an important element in the eco development of many South and central American countries and could be an important element in construction world wide. The use of this fast growing hardwood could help alleviate pressure on the tropical rainforests.
The physical and mechanical properties of Guadua Angustifolia exceeded the required standards for building of the ZERI Pavilion Hanover Germany 2002. After extensive testing the German building Authority recognized the quality craftsmanship of Marcelo Villegas and the innovative design of Simon Velez and approved the construction of this large bamboo structure complete with 100 ton concrete roof. Recently the World Bamboo Organization has drafted bamboo construction codes which are slowly being adapted to many local building codes
Guadua angustifolia (Kunth), endemic to Latin America, is slowly becoming well-known once again as a greatly desirable building material. Highly appreciated by the Liberator Simon Bolivar for its watershed protection and praised by Alexander von Humboldt for its wide variety of uses, it is being utilized in construction today by both the rich and the poor of South America.
Sadly, most of the huge tropical rain forests and their biodiversity have vanished, and millions of hectares have been transformed into pastures and cropland. It is only now, due to technical studies and research, that bamboo’s superior mechanical properties have increased the importance of this “vegetable steel.” While bamboo culms used for building can be harvested in natural forests, over- exploitation leads rapidly to the depletion of natural resources. For large-scale use of Guadua angustifolia, the management of sustainable bamboo forests and groves, as well as the establishment of new nurseries and plantations, is a priority.
Tropical bamboo can be propagated easily with cuttings or by covering complete culms with soil. The next year, new plants will sprout. Or, Guadua can be propagated more rapidly by the so-called chusquin method. Under this method, culms are cut at ground level when harvesting causing many small delicate shoots and new plants to grow around the original plant. This is a suitable method for large-scale forests or for farm cooperatives. Since bamboo is a grass, harvesting it down to the soil induces more new shoots to emerge, just like turf grass. This is a phenomenon not known in tropical hardwood forests.
Even more rapid methods have been recently developed through the use of tissue culture. Bamboo propagated in a laboratory in the space of one square meter will be sufficient to establish one hectare of new forest. These plants can also be readily transported in a one-half-cubic-meter box. Harvesting can begin six years after planting, which is another reason why bamboo deserves to be one of the leaders in tropical biomass production. For architectural purposes, Guadua is the favorite from among all the world’s bamboo species. It’s diameter is consistent for the first 15 meters and then at the top it becomes elegantly tapered. No wonder it has attracted the attention of civil engineers, architects, academics, designers, and artists.
Environmentally, Guadua is effective at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than most other tropical forests, ongoing studies in Colombia have now been coordinated by the Environmental Bamboo Foundation and the results are stunning. On the basis of such studies, which are ongoing, Japan and the Netherlands have both undertaken massive forestation projects as a way of earning so-called “carbon credits” to offset industrial pollution.
The benefits and advantages of bamboo are multitudinous. Recent studies conducted by the European Union confirm that bamboo’s water requirements are small and that its root system is an excellent watershed protector. Depending on humidity, Guadua contains 15% more BTUs than other fuelwoods and could therefore serve as an alternative fuel for energy. German Fire Authorities tested Guadua and, guided by the European Building Code, have recently approved bamboo as a building material to be used for the Guadua Pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hanover. A preservation technique, involving the use of smoke, but without the use of toxins, will prevent bamboo’s deterioration for as long as a normal lifetime or longer. Bamboo construction is also earthquake-resistant. Recent earthquakes in Colombia’s coffee zone proved this when many house built in the 1930s survived, while modern houses collapsed. Costa Rica reported similar experiences in earlier earthquakes there.
This page was borrowed From the E.B.F. http://bamboocentral.org/Main.html