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bboobridgeBamboo, the king of wood?

Bamboo is arguably the most versatile plant on the planet. By far, it is the most prolific of all plants. In China bamboo is the symbol of longevity and in India it is the symbol of friendship.

Technically a grass, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world. Depending on climate and local conditions, bamboo can grow up to three or four feet a day. Imagine how tall your two-year- old child would be at that rate of growth.

And to make things even more interesting, there are around 1,000 species of bamboo plants found in just about every climate from cold mountains to hot tropics. Some species have even existed since pre-historic times and grew to a height of almost 100 meters.

Within a given species all plants of the same stock flower at the same time. Depending on species, flowering occurs once every 60-120 years. The species Phyllostachys bambusoides (Sieb. & Zucc.) is an exception and takes 130 years between each flowering.

Bamboo can be classified into two basic types: those that “run” (grow ramped) and those that “clump” or remain relatively within a small, defined area. It is the running bamboo which has given bamboo such a bad name. Before planting bamboo you need to be sure which type you choose. The wrong choice could prove to be disastrous: Not only for you but for your neighbors as well.

Bamboo has a myriad of functions and uses. It makes a sturdy construction material, is used in fabrics (notable for its softness and natural antibacterial properties), as food, as medicine, in fence making, as walking sticks, canoes, tableware, cutlery, smoking pipes, dart throwers, the list goes on and on.

So, why aren’t more people using bamboo on a wide scale in Australia, for example, as a building material for homes or offices? – construction is an industry which could definitely profit from a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly material for buildings instead of the common practice of clearing forest indiscriminately.

According to Graham Jordan, a local builder and stone mason, it is a matter of lack of information, knowledge and experience building large, permanent structures with bamboo. How dependable (meaning durable) is bamboo over the long run when it comes to investing time, energy and money on a material that might not last as long as most timber/hardwood structures? This is a question that can only be answered when one has gained the necessary information, knowledge and experience.

At Djanbung Gardens in Nimbin, a 2-day hands-on bamboo construction and crafting workshop is offered each year to introduce aspiring bamboo users to the wonderful world of bamboo. This year’s workshop is being held on August 25th and 26th 2008 from 9am to 5pm and will cover such topics as :

basic clump management, harvesting and treatment

 traditional construction & joinery techniques

 splitting & weaving, brush screens

The workshop fee is only $95.00/$75.00 and (includes M/A tea BYO lunch).

You need no previous experience.

Just bring:

work gloves

pruningsaw

hacksaw

stanley knife

cordless drill & bits…

…and plenty of enthusiasm.

After this workshop you will agree, Bamboo is the King of Wood.

©2008 Eric Tyrone Smith