The Philippines presently has about a hundred of combined indigenous and acquired Bamboo species as of 2016, due to the effort of Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) projects in introducing different varieties into our tropical paradise.
China, EU, Indonesia and Vietnam are the top 4 Bamboo exporters of 2015. Our country ranks fifth. But the world’s demand for this versatile material has grown exponentially ever since the introduction of the German-Chinese Bamboo Pavilion in Expo 2010 Shanghai and the Green School in Bali. This towering grass has become the sustainable and renewable steel of the future, and the carbon-fighting solution to the world’s emissions. A tall order for this giant grass but it has more than enough spunk to merit its titles.
This fast growing grass converts more of the harmful Carbon Dioxide gas to the life-giving Oxygen than a tree—by 35%. Ecologists, scientists and researchers have tagged Bamboo and Rattan as the evergreen duos that can serve as carbon sinks and forest rehabilitators. Planted along water courses, Bamboos can prevent soil from erosion. Bamboo, being hollow, is strong yet lightweight, highly abundant and cheap making it the best material in the post-modern green architecture. There are as many as 1,500 ways to use Bamboo…and counting. The Forest Product Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) of DOST have been working together with ERDB in churning out prototypes for countless Bamboo applications. (All images below have been provided by FPRDI)
Every species of the Bamboo has its own story. Each having a different application. The most widely cultivated species in the Philippines, kauayan-tinik (Bambusa blumeana) has long been used by our ancestors in the construction of native architecture but this drought-resistant Bamboo is also popular for its smooth, clean finish as laminated surfaces for tables, chairs, and floorings. The best species for construction is the Guadua angustifolia, found primarily in South America. It has a tensile strength of up to 40kN/cm2. The hardiest wood fiber can stand up to 5kN/cm2, while steel can withstand up to 37kN/cm2. Fortunately, although not indigenous to the Philippines, there have been a few who have begun to propagate this species. The most prominent in our country is the Giant Bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper). True to its name, this grass giant reach up to 20-30 meters tall with a wall thickness of 11-20 mm and can grow as far up as 100 cm in a day when the conditions are right.
No longer called the poor man’s timber, Bamboo plantations have become the ultimate industry of the 21st century. And Bamboo can take its place as the builder of the future.