Djanbung Gardens and Bamboo

In Asia bamboo is a symbol of strength, flexibility, tenacity and endurance and for a world subject to climate change and an onslaught of natural disasters including a crisis of forest loss it could become a major remedy.

 

Bamboo housing has been found to survive earthquakes and hurricanes intact and in the case of natural disasters bamboo enables quick erection of buildings. Bamboo is an extremely strong fibre with twice the compression strength of concrete and the same strength-to-weight ratio of steel.

 

Bamboo is a member of the grass family. The fastest growing bamboo species may grow up to 4 feet a day. Bamboo establishes rapidly after planting, with a mature stand usually reached within 4-6 years. After reaching maturity, bamboo can be selectively harvested annually with about 15-20% of the total stock removed without clear-cutting, soil erosion, eco-system disruption, replanting or reducing the carbon sequestration of the plantation.

Each acre of bamboo isolates up to 40 tons of CO2 transforming it into sugars through the process of photosynthesis and then goes on to transform the CO2 into the compounds that make bamboo fibre.

Bamboo is only a solution to carbon sequestration when it is being regularly harvested and turned into durable goods or biochar.

Unnikrishnan a member of a bamboo instrument playing environmental music group, the Pakkanar music team of Kerala, when questioned about his ethics playing on such an instrument said, “Bamboo is a plant that grows more as you cut it. There is no harm in utilizing such a tree.” Selective harvesting actually increases the biomass yield by 20 times versus bamboo left in the wild.

It could be a valuable alternative to the timber industry in Australia. In many African countries it is being planted as a material for housing and a more viable and sustainable alternative biomass for firewood and charcoal.

In China they are experimenting with activated bamboo charcoal for cleaning polluted rivers. In Italy scientists have been using processed bamboo for bone replacements, successful in sheep so far. In the US there is a company manufacturing bamboo and sugarcane pulp into paper. New York Times reported on a bamboo bike frame company. It is food, fibre, fuel, medicine and construction material including furniyure and musical instruments.

It may be that governments could facilitate this planet-saving technology by setting up or at least offering financial help for the processing facilities for this wondrous plant. There have been largescale bamboo plantings in this area over recent years but at least one plantation has been bulldozed probably due to an undeveloped market and production facilities. For furher info on bamboo go to Friends of Djanbung Gardens Facebook site where I have put some interesting links.

 

Djanbung Gardens’ holds an annual Bamboo Workshop every spring where you can learn hands on bamboo construction and crafting, basic clump management, harvest and treatment; traditional construction and joinery technique along with splitting and weaving bamboo screens. Check our short course program.

Lynne Oldfield