Bamboo is thought of as the most influential and important plant to humans and the ecosystem. This woody perennial evergreen plant can grow to towering heights and is part of the true grass family.
Bamboo can be found all over the world in varied climates, from cold mountainous regions to hot tropical areas including North and South America, throughout East Asia, northern Australia, and southern Africa. The most common place for bamboo to grow is in Southeast Asia where it has been growing for millions of years. It is hypothesized that the first humans to populate Southeast Asia relied on bamboo instead of stone as their main building material.
The extremely rapid growth and natural regeneration properties of bamboo make it an environmentally beneficial material. In some cases, it can grow as quickly as one meter (40 inches) per day without the need for fertilizers, pesticides or much water. Bamboo can be continuously re-harvested without causing damage to the plant system and surrounding environment. During the time it takes to regenerate, the bamboo plant’s root system stays intact so erosion is prevented. Harvesting this woody grass every few years improves the overall health of the plant.
Bamboo is great for the climate. A hectare of bamboo produces up to 35% more oxygen than a similar area of hardwood trees and absorbs four times as much carbon. It can reduce soil erosion and improve soil quality in degraded and eroded areas. Bamboo naturally contains an anti bacterial agent called bamboo kin that prevents, kills or reduces the growth of bacteria. This makes bamboo products appealing to people with allergies.
Bamboo is quickly becoming the eco-friendly alternative in the building, clothing, paper and flooring industries. With 5.38 million hectares of bamboo plantations and an annual increase of 100,000 hectares, China is leading the world’s bamboo industry. They are leaders in the varieties of bamboo grown, the number of bamboo reserves, as well as the overall production output.