Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bamboo: A Plant to Fight Climate Change

Growing up and spending summers at my maternal grandmother’s house meant regularly seeing vehicles headed out of the town dragging along large amounts of tall bamboo plants. I distinctly remember this because my grandmother’s house was located on a corner so when these vehicles turned, it was more than likely that these bamboo plants would hit a part of the house which was, thankfully, just a wall that connected to the gate. We often had to warn people against parking in front of the house because the bamboo would most likely hit their car.

My grandmother’s hometown of Maragondon, Cavite, is often called the Bamboo Capital of Cavite. If you are looking for where to find bamboo, this is one place where you will find it. Bamboo-based products are currently being developed in the town. When I last visited their production area they were producing bamboo floor tiles, photo frames, and furniture. It’s a very promising industry in a place where bamboo is very abundant.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to the President of the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, Mr. Edgardo Manda. His passion and drive to push for the bamboo plant to have a big role in combating climate change as well as the proper planting and harvest of bamboo for commercial use are inspiring.

Tall Bamboo Plants (Stock Photo from Foulline on Pixabay)

Climate Change is such a big issue that we as citizens of this earth must consider. Some may say that it’s a hoax but I don’t think we can deny how bad the weather has become in the past few years. To know what we can do to alleviate the rising and/or falling temperatures is something we need to prioritize and act on. I was surprised to find out that the tall bamboo plants that I see so often can play a big role in the fight against Climate Change if we make the best use of it.

Bamboo amazes me. Here’s what I learned:

Bamboo Provides Cooler Temperatures

According to the video presentation showed to me by Mr. Manda, bamboo gets more carbon dioxide from the air and produces more oxygen compared to an ordinary tree. It lowers the intensity of the light from the sun and protects its surroundings from ultra-violet rays. He explained that the reason why places with a lot of bamboos have cooler temperatures is because of these plants.

Bamboo is a Good Pick for Tree Planting Activities

Bamboo, while considered a plant or a form of grass, is a good option for tree planting activities. I remember reading that so many environmentally conscious people and groups do tree planting activities but most of the time the trees that are being planted are the wrong kind. Bamboo, on the other hand, is perfect.

For one, bamboo matures fast. It can be harvested as early as five years after it has been planted and can be re-used again because if harvested properly, the stump will grow again and produce more bamboo (therefore, no need to replant.)

Bamboo Helps Prevent Soil Erosion

The roots of bamboo plants spread so wide that it helps protect the soil it is on from erosion. It also helps to sustain riverbanks.

Bamboo is A Good Wood Substitute

Mr. Manda showed me many structures and products that were made from bamboo instead of wood. From furniture to airport interiors, it was astounding how much can be made from bamboo. They were all so beautiful --- and pricey, if I might add. This makes me wonder why we as a country are not making the most out of this plant since exporting bamboo goods seems to be a promising market.

I found out that bamboo can also be made into paper and even clothing. It blew my mind that you can make shirts out of bamboo. Again, considering how fast you can produce bamboo, why aren’t people taking advantage of this?

Bamboo is a Food Source

This one I wasn’t that surprised about. I’ve had meals that involved bamboo before – not the big bamboo of course, but the smaller ones that are considered vegetables here in Asia.

One thing that did surprise me, however, was that bamboo can also be made into beer. Mr. Manda showed me photos of the beer in China and, if I remember correctly, Canada.

There are so many benefits from the planting and use of bamboo, its role in combating the greenhouse effect that is brought about by climate change being the most important of all.

Did you know that bamboo has a biomass of up to 30 percent compared to only 5 percent for trees? Even its waste products can be used as fuel more than trees…why are we not planting more of them?

I’m hoping to learn more about bamboo from Mr. Manda and his associates in the future. Hopefully, I can not only learn but be able to do something that can promote how important bamboo is for the environment.


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