It accumulates a
considerable quantity of biomass in short time having a low rotation
period of 2-5 years. It sequesters atmospheric carbon faster than many
fast growing trees. Bamboo plantations are known to conserve top-soil.
Thus greater use of bamboo and its products as wood
alternates, can help preserve tropical forests and curtail the
rapid decline of forest areas.
The biomass production
of bamboo depends on the species, site quality, climate etc. The figures
vary between 50 and 100 tons per ha, comprising of
culm biomass - 60 to 70 %, branches - 10 to 15 %, and foliage -
15 to 20 %. It has been calculated that in Costa Rica a bamboo
plantation is able to capture 17 metric tonnes
of carbon per ha per year. This is due to the rapid growth of bamboo: an
annual crop of 30 metric tonnes air-dry
bamboo per ha per year is easily possible. Of course, any permanent
capture of carbon is only valid if the bamboo is used for long-term
purposes like housing, i.e. once the bamboo has been burnt, the carbon
returns to the atmosphere.
In the Philippines,
Kenya and the Andes region bamboo is well known for its capacity to
control erosion. In Punjab (India) about 62,000 bamboo clumps were
stubbed in 1980 in order to stabilize 311 ha of embankments. These
clumps started production with five culms per clump in year five, and
were expected to attain the full development level of twelve bamboo
culms per clump from year ten onwards - yielding an annual profit of as
much as US $70,000.