Without question bamboo culture needs to be widely exploited andpropagated, not so much as a plantation crop, but as a wasteland crop. It is capable of holding soil and suppressingother growth that is not wanted. Anyriver valley would benefit from the emergence of bamboo forests building up thebanks.
It grows well in temperate climates such as the
Pacific Northwest. I havepersonally grown a patch of timber bamboo. My biggest problem for a small planting was to defend against hungrysquirrels who love the young shoots.
Obviously rodent damage would need to be controlled.
Planting an otherwise unusable waste land would provide an annual crop ofyoung bamboo canes and a large supply of bamboo leaves and thin branches which mayserve as fodder for cattle and deer in particular.
Of course a market would have to be developed for the large canes, butsmaller cane varieties could simply be fed to deer and cattle.
There are plenty of places where the plant would prosper and should beencouraged.
As a side note, protect bamboo shoots with a small cone of chicken wire to avoid rodent damage in the spring and leave it on to prevent later damage.
Fight climate change with bamboo,says campaign group
World leaders pondering the conundrum of climate change should think of bamboo,a group promoting the versatile grass said at the UN talks in
Cheap, fast-growingand immensely strong, bamboo provides an answer to surging carbon emissions,generates income for the rural poor and helps tackle housing shortages, theInternational Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) said.
"Bamboo is aremarkable resource for driving economic development, and is readily availablein many of the world's poorest countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America," said Coosje Hoogendoorn, INBAR'sdirector general.
"It helps supportthe livelihoods of more than 1.5 billion people, generates more than fivebillion dollars in annual trade and can grow up to one meter (3.25 feet) aday."
"Bamboo housinghas been around for centuries, but many people don't understand its fullpotential and still see it as the poor man's timber," said Alvaro Cabrera,INBAR's regional coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean.
"In fact, bamboois stronger for its weight than steel, it's cheaper than timber, uses far lessenergy in processing than concrete and can dance in earthquakes... Bambooshould be referred to as the wise man's timber."
INBAR, a 13-year-oldorganisation based in
,is an inter-government organisation, gathering 36 countries under a treaty,that also fosters fair-trade and development schemes involving bamboo andrattan. China
It made its pitch onthe sidelines of the November 29-December 10 UN talks in
Cancun,where countries are wrestling for solutions to climate change.
In addition toproviding livelihoods for people, bamboo forests would be an invaluable weaponagainst carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas, throughphotosynthesis, INBAR said.
Some species of bamboocan suck up CO2 at least as fast as Chinese fir and eucalyptus, among theswiftest-growing commercial species of trees, according to a scientific reportpresented last month.
In addition, bambooroots reduce soil erosion, preventing hillsides and riverbanks from washingaway in floods and landslides.
Hoogendoorn told AFPthat the group was working on a certification scheme whereby bamboo would besold with a label proving that it came from a sustainable plantation andallowed other species to thrive.
Even so, certification"is complex and very difficult," she admitted.
One of the biggestdestroyers of biodiversity is monoculture crops grown on hugespaces on soil treated with pesticides and fertilizers.
Natural bambooforests, as opposed to plantations, are a haven for many species of wildlife,including the giant panda.
World trade in bambooand rattan is more than five billion dollars a year, with
China, Indonesiaand Vietnam the three biggest sources, INBAR said.