Bamboo represents a sustainable, environmentally friendly material with the potential to reverse the growing depletion of the world’s natural resources. The inherent properties of bamboo and advancements in manufacturing techniques have resulted in high value consumer products that can bring large returns to investors. Some of the advantageous properties and benefits of bamboo are as follows:
- Rapid growth. Bamboo grows rapidly and can be harvested within three or four years of planting; this compares to hardwoods which take up to 40 years to mature before harvesting.
- Abundance of natural resources. There are 37M Ha of bamboo forests in the world, most of which is unmanaged. There is therefore a plentiful supply of raw materials, without the need for additional plantation costs and effort.
- Benefits the poor. Bamboo is owned and managed by the world’s poor, therefore advancements in the bamboo industry, inherently leads to greater opportunities to the poor.
- Sustainable. Bamboo can be harvested annually and non-destructively; in fact harvesting contributes to the health and well-being of the forest as well as increasing the yield for future years.
- Land preservation. Bamboo forest cultivation helps to rejuvenate degraded land protecting against soil erosion. Bamboo roots remain in place after harvesting where they help retain nutrients and moisture for the next crop. Bamboo also protects against natural disasters such as land-slides.
- High utilisation. As well as the culms, all other parts of the bamboo plant can be used in rural livelihoods: shoots for food, leaves for fodder, and branches for items such as brooms and for firewood.
- Absorption of Greenhouse gases. Bamboo forests absorb greenhouse gases. Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.
- No fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides needed. Unlike most cash crops, bamboo requires no agricultural chemicals to thrive. Unlike other crops, bamboo sequesters nitrogen and cultivation does not add chemicals to the environment.