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Bamboo Industry Profile


Bamboo as a multi-purpose biomass crop

Bamboo is the fastest growing woody material on the planet – making it ideal for both climate change reversal and the production of manufactured building materials.  Unlike timber, 25 to 30% of a bamboo stand is harvested each year leaving the bulk of the stand to protect the eco-system in which it grows.  In addition to the carbon captured in the rapid above ground growth (30-40 tons/hectare/yr), huge amounts of carbon are captured not only in the extensive root structure but in the microbial activity that bamboo fosters in the soil beneath the grove. 

Bamboo hand harvestMaking rectangular products out of a round stalk produces roughly 50 - 80% cellulosic waste, which can be pyrolyzed to concurrently produce the electricity and heat needed for the processing of this truly renewable building material.  So, from the bamboo harvest comes a wood timber replacement, bioenergy (electricity) independent of the grid, as well as industrial process heat.  But the main result of all this is the coproduct that "keeps on giving" – biochar

When biochar is used in agricultural fields, the microbial communities that inhabit the biochar work in a marvelous symbiosis with the plants to continuously drawdown more carbon each year as well as to increase crop yields.

Biochar is destined to play an important role in the rejuvenation of abandoned and marginal soils (see related article).  Biochar aids in re-establishment of the microbes responsible for making soils fertile by making them once again rich in the carbon needed for optimal farmland productivity and thus food security. If we are to reverse climate change this symbiosis will be paramount.

When bamboo is grown for the purpose of making manufactured building materials it offers the local environment many advantages – erosion control, local water cycle support, local building materials, higher water tables, and village employment.  Bamboo is one of the best crops for a triple bottom line business.

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