Ajiro Bamboo Velobike
Booming bamboo: The next super-material? (BBC)
In eastern Nicaragua, bamboo was until recently regarded by most of the local population as valueless - more as a nuisance to be cleared than a boon to them and their region.What's So Great About Bamboo? (Core 77)
But on land that was once under dense forest cover, then turned over to slash-and-burn agriculture and ranching, new bamboo plantations are rising.
"You can see the little holes where the bamboo has been planted. At this moment the bamboo is like the young girl with the pimples that has not overcome puberty," says Nicaraguan John Vogel, who runs the local operations of a British-based enterprise investing in bamboo.
This is the world's fastest growing plant, ready to be harvested annually and sustainably after four to five years in contrast to the typical tropical hardwood that takes many years longer to mature and can be harvested only once.
"This was once a tropical jungle full of trees through which you could not see the sunlight," Vogel says.
"But the egotism of man and short-sightedness made people believe that by depleting all this it would mean a quick income and they did not need to worry about tomorrow."
Anyone know why bamboo is becoming so popular? As we've seen in Bamboo, Part I, it's a total bitch to process, so why not stick with wood?Beijing Design Week 2011: Rethinking Bamboo at the Beijing Design Triennial (Core77)
The short answer is it's green, sustainable, strong, plentiful, and profitable. As it has been for a while--people have been using it for millenia to make furniture, weapons, tools, water-bearing systems, clothing from the fibers, and you can even eat the stuff (good source of low-calorie potassium, who knew).
The long answer of why bamboo is good is as follows:
Green: It's the fastest-growing plant you can use to reforest an area, and it produces 35% more oxygen than an equally-sized batch of trees.
Sustainable: Unlike trees which need to be cut down, bamboo can be harvested without damaging the original plant, and it then regenerates in three to five years. None of this waiting-around-for-30-years for your reforestation project to kick in.
Strong: Harder than maple but lighter than oak, the tensile strength of bamboo is comparable to steel.
Plentiful: A stand of bamboo can generate around 200 poles in five years--the same length of time it takes one tree to grow big enough to cut down.
Profitable: Bamboo is essentially grass, and it grows way faster than trees--some varieites of bamboo can grow four feet in a day. For a lumber harvester, the yield can be 25 times what you'd get from regular ol' trees.
The chief threat to this wondrous and bountiful plant is the fearsome Panda bear, but environmentalists will be happy to know we've done a pretty good job of stamping those little buggers out.