Alana Herro writes for Eye on Earth (e²), a service of World Watch Magazine in partnership with the blue moon fund. e² provides a unique perspective on current events, newly released studies, and important global trends.
A Beijing-based group, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), hopes to develop modular bamboo housing as part of its efforts to encourage greater use of the renewable plant resource. Following a recent International Design Workshop on Modular Bamboo Housing, held August 2830, the group issued a call for prototype designs for the shelters, using the recommendations of the 35 workshop participants. The overall goal of the project is to develop panel-based modular houses for use as schools, offices, emergency shelters, and homes for poor rural families and slum dwellers.
INBAR, which works to promote the social, economic, and environmental benefits of bamboo and rattan, notes that the fast-growing plants have many advantages over timber. While a 60-foot (18.3 meter) wood tree can take 60 years to replace, a 60-foot bamboo plant takes only 59 days to replace. Rattan, a spiny vine-like palm that can grow to over 600 feet (185 meters), thrives in healthy as well as degraded forests and on marginal soil, and its stems can be harvested without harm to the trees it climbs on.
The two plants are readily available in many of the worlds tropical and sub-tropical regions, where they are typically harvested by women and children. They have a wide range of uses, including for housing, furniture, baskets, instruments, and paper. Worldwide, more than a billion people live in bamboo houses, and the global trade in bamboo and rattan is estimated at US $5 billion a year, according to INBAR.
Thanks for the story -- a very important initiative to say the least. I look forward to seeing more coverage on bamboo resources in the future.
Pacific Bamboo Resource Group
That is such a great idea. Do you know how durable bamboo is or how long it lasts compared to wood?
The destruction of our mother nature continues. And dont forget about The Global Warming that changing now our climate. Sometimes I cant understand the mens destroying temper. The person was surrounded by pure water and thick woods, clear air and minerals deposits. And what? Slowly but surely the human being destroy everything. What about our children? Shall they live in desolate wilderness?
Using bamboo for housing is a fabulous idea and I hope that it gets more publicity. Bamboo has been studied in smaller experiments and the houses easily withstand hurricanes for example. I hope INBAR like institutions promote end-to-end solutions through microfinance organizations from growing, harvesting, building modular components and creating useful artifacts.
To prevent rot, bamboo needs to be soaked in saltwater. A low cost method I suggest would be to tow huge bundles of bamboo through the sea while transporting the material to markets. The fast growing plants can be used for flood control and prevention of soil erosion in places like Bangladesh where heavy rains (really heavy) cause havoc.
This topic is indeed worldchanging and I am happy to see it here.
This would be cool...bamboo is a hardy, wood alternative, but there is one problem with all the innovation going on in China: manufactured bamboo products have to travel all the way across the world just to be used (if you're living in North America, or even Europe for that matter).
We gotta find a way to localize the trend towards bamboo use.