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8 Amazing Bamboo Facts

Meaghan Weeden | July 02, 2020 | 4 min read

When you think about reforestation, bamboo may not be the first thing that comes to mind. And it’s true, bamboo isn’t technically a tree — but planting and cultivating it is no less beneficial for people and the environment. Indeed, as the fastest growing grass on the planet, bamboo has incredible potential as a sustainable resource. Its woody stem makes it very tree-like, yet it also has unique properties. That's why one of our projects involves planting bamboo!

Here Are 8 Reasons Why Bamboo is an Amazing Plant

Bamboo grows really fast

1. Bamboo Grows Fast - Like Really Fast

According to Guinness World Records, some species of bamboo can grow up to 2.91 ft/day — or, 1.5 inches/hr! So if you sit long enough with a bamboo culm, it might just grow before your eyes!

How does bamboo grow? As a colony plant, it uses its energy to expand its roots and grow more shoots in the spring. These shoots emerge out of the ground to grow taller and wider for around 60 days. After 60 days, the canes stop growing altogether, and energy is directed back to the roots for the development of further canes. This is where it diverges from most other flora, which put their energy into continued growth of the original stem. Once bamboo is established (usually after 3 years), the new shoots that emerge each spring will continue to get bigger and bigger. Pretty cool, right?

2. Bamboo Has Regeneration Superpowers

No, really! Cutting bamboo actually stimulates growth. How does this work? Well, rather than directing energy towards regaining its lost height, a cut bamboo stalk will simply unfurl new leaves. These leaves, in turn, create and send energy down to the root system to encourage the growth of new shoots. The more that gets harvested, the faster it grows. That makes bamboo an incredible renewable resource that can be harvested and will regrow naturally without the need for manual reforestation.

3. It can sequester a lot of carbon

Bamboo’s incredible growth rate is more than show stopping — it also translates to some serious carbon sequestration benefits. When properly managed and intensively harvested, bamboo can sequester up to 1.78 tonnes of CO2 per clump per year. This translates into a CO2 drawdown curve that’s 10X faster than that of woody trees. That's HUGE! 

Bamboo filters and slows the flow of water

4. Bamboo Filters and Slows the Flow of Water

Dense bamboo roots form a water barrier, and are used by coastal villages to protect their crops from getting washed out by rising water tables. And thanks to this barrier, bamboo can effectively filter organic matter (including soil nitrogen), leading some scientists to explore it as a sustainable wastewater treatment option.

5. Bamboo is Virtually Fire-Proof

Because it contains large amounts of silicate acid, bamboo is abnormally flame resistant. This is good news in fire-prone regions of the world, where other tree and grass species are regularly devastated by wildfires. Incorporating clumping bamboo into tropical reforestation efforts, then, can protect the long-term viability of projects.

Tall bamboo Tree

6. Bamboo is Really Strong and Flexible

Which makes it an incredible, environmentally friendly building material — especially in earthquake-prone regions. In this regard, bamboo has been prevalent since the beginning of humanity, and has been used in place of wood, bricks, steel, and more. In fact, in some countries, bamboo stalks are used to build scaffolding. If we used bamboo for more construction purposes, we would save many trees and primary forests from deforestation.

7. Bamboo Helps to Hold the Soil Together

Because bamboo is a grass, it has a very shallow root system — with rhizomes only populating the top 6 inches of the soil. The rest of the roots only spread around 14 inches deeper. But because the roots are so densely clumped, they do a great job at holding the top layer of the soil together, thus preventing soil erosion.

Woman next to bamboo products

8. Bamboo Helps Women Economics

Seriously! The light weight of bamboo allows women to participate in the bamboo economy, giving them access to a potentially lucrative source of income, and can help secure them a place in decision-making in political, economic and public life. Some examples of products they can make with this self-sustaining resource are: bamboo briquettes, charcoal, incense sticks, and furniture. Pretty amazing, right?

Is Bamboo Invasive?

Well, it depends on which type we’re talking about — running or clumping? In running bamboo, the rhizome grows horizontally away from the culm, and can indeed spread rapidly over large areas of land. Conversely, the rhizomes of clumping bamboo grow vertically, spreading upward and growing directly off of each other. Above-ground, this causes the new shoots to “clump” together — and thankfully, that means it isn't invasive. It also depends on where you are and whether bamboo grows naturally in the region. It is native to tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate climates and is most common in Asia and South America - though it also grows in parts of Australia, Africa, and in the southern United States.

In our tree planting projects, we always plant clumping bamboo, allowing us to reap all of its amazing benefits without risking unintended harm — a win-win for the planet! Want to learn more about how we’re sustainably planting bamboo and facilitating cutting-edge research on carbon sequestration? Check out our Philippines project to plant bamboo with us today!

The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines
The Philippines

The Philippines

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With your help, we will:

  • The Philippines have traditionally supported some of the most spectacular primary rainforests in South East Asia. In some islands such as Mindanao and Palawan, remnants of the great rainforests remain, though deforestation has decimated old growth forests in many areas. In addition to tropical rainforests, unique bamboo and mangrove ecosystems exist across the archipelago. The diversity of habitats in the Philippines support an exuberance of life making it one of the world’s seventeen “megadiverse countries” as well as a global biodiversity hotspot. Endangered wildlife such as the Philippine Eagle and Philippine Tarsier, as well as almost half of the countries 1,196 known species of amphibians, birds and mammals are endemic and found nowhere else. Your donation will help restore the Philippines spectacular forests, protect the island’s biodiversity and develop sustainable livelihood options for local communities.
  • Our partners in the Philippines are working hard to restore forest ecosystems with local people. Efforts are centred on habitat restoration for endangered species, safeguarding community watersheds and sustainable development through agroforestry and tree planting. Your support will help us make a difference on some amazing projects. By planting trees in the Philippines, your helping the B’llaan Tribe restore deforested land into rainforest in the Mount Matutum Protected Area - a haven for endangered wildlife and an important watershed; plant forests of giant bamboo in Mindanao in a community led effort to facilitate sustainable bamboo agroforestry and sequester carbon; and restore mangroves ecosystems vital for coral reefs and countless other species.
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We’ll also send you updates on the Philippines project, so you can track the impact made on the community and environment.
  • Our partners choose trees that will bring the greatest overall benefit to the ecosystem and region. This includes different types of native trees and nursery crop species. Depending on the needs of each section of habitat being restored, species may include rainforest trees such as dipterocarps, agroforestry species such as native fruit trees and giant bamboo, or mangrove seedlings.

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