Bamboo are the fastest growing plants on earth. They utilise unique rhizome (underground stems) to self-multiply. This allows some species of bamboo to grow up to 0.91m or 3 feet in one day. Due to its fast growth, bamboo is a useful construction material. Engineered bamboo is created from the laminated and treated raw material. The Cubo Modular Bamboo Houses currently produced in the Philippines by Earl Patrick Forlales are a fantastic example of the flexible nature of this amazing grass. This adaptable material has several uses, from water pipes to scaffolding and bamboo fibres in fabrics. Furthermore, young bamboo shoots are edible and they use older canes for paper/pulp, instruments and intricate decorations.
Let’s look at 3 different ways this sustainable grass is versatile, strong and unique.
A Grass to Reduce Erosion
An innovative method to reduce soil erosion and landslides involve bamboo clippings. Planting bamboo on depleted soils, riverbanks, and hills enables this giant grass’s roots to bind to the soil, making the ground stable and less prone to slipping due to heavy rains. Additionally, bamboo purifies both the surface and underground water.
In Kenya, farmers are growing bamboo to prevent soil erosion and to reforest areas depleted by tea plantations. This sustainable grass does not require fertiliser or special soil condition for growth. Bamboo aerates the soil, allowing indigenous plants to return to the rehabilitated area. Additionally, farming bamboo relieves the pressure on forests, enabling the conservation of local flora and fauna to strengthen as bamboo can be used instead of trees. Bamboo is a low maintenance crop, once planted in the soil, farmers only need to harvest the length of cane they require. In September 2020, the Kenyan government declared bamboo a cash crop elevating it’s status from a nuisance weed to a profitable plant.
Bamboo, cane and rattan are natural and sustainable materials used in traditional and modern furniture design. They create interior and exterior furniture from these materials. The options are unique and endless. Furthermore, these materials can withstand dry climates and when treated, work well in humid conditions. Bamboo furniture is durable, environmentally friendly and easy to maintain. A couple of issues with bamboo furniture include, the lack of grading system to determine the quality of plant used and the emissions from volatile organic chemicals (VOC) used in bamboo adhesives can be toxic.
Scaffolding Stronger Than Steel
When compared to steel and aluminium bamboo is stronger, lighter and more flexible. In Asia, bamboo scaffolding was popular however this method is dying. Hong Kong, the city with 482 skyscrapers (buildings taller than 150 m or 492 ft) is the last bastion of this dwindling art form. Here bamboo scaffolding structures have risen over 60 stories in the air. Safety is an issue for tall scaffolding structures created from bamboo. However, in countries that use wood instead of metal scaffold poles bamboo is a low-cost and environmental improvement.