Bamboo is currently recognized as one of the most important, sustainable and
environmentally helpful crops on the planet. The tropical clumping varieties are
non-invasive. They produce an annual supply of high quality timber materials as
well as being a nutritious food source for livestock and humans. They create
topsoil and protect against erosion while producing more oxygen and absorbing
more pollution from the air than any other plant species- bamboo may even be
effective at reducing VOG. They are used for ecological purposes such as soil
stabilization and erosion prevention on hill slopes and verges. Even after
harvesting the culms, the root clumps live on sometimes for hundreds of years,
forming dense root systems that promote soil retention and regularly produce
new shoots. Clumping bamboos are ideal for protecting tropical forests; as
forest tree resources diminish, the western world is beginning to look at
replanting with bamboo as a better choice for construction materials and cellulose. Bamboo is a cherished building material in other tropical climates like Hawaii’s because of its lightweight yet incredible strength, and the ease with which it’s managed and harvested. The propagation of different types of bamboo and the creation of bamboo timber plantations would benefit the island of Hawaii tremendously, reversing decades of soil erosion that are a direct result of mono-cropping industries like sugarcane.
Bamboo and Hawaii
A Match Made in Heaven
The significant drop in tourism and the resultant loss of thousands of jobs that
occurred after the 911 World Trade Center attacks highlight how seriously vulnerable
our economic situation really is here in Hawaii. With thousands of Big Island residents
unemployed, underemployed, or dependant on welfare for support, we desperately need a
sensible, sustainable, ag-based industry to ensure our economic future. The development
of a viable, entirely Hawaiian-based bamboo industry could provide hundreds of skilled,
bamboo-certified, master carpenter and craftsmen positions, as well as agricultural
and other jobs. Non-monocropped bamboo plantations and localized treatment facilities
will supply materials for the ever-increasing industrial and household uses and demand
for tropical bamboos both on and off the islands. B.V.H. will strive diligently toward
workforce development and training, job creation, and market expansion and education.
Accepted building practices with bamboo that are both financially practical
and structurally efficient are another area we are hoping to address in order
to fully realize bamboo’s economic potential in Hawaii.
Other countries have successfully demonstrated that bamboo housing can improve the
standards of living and beautify any community. Elegant, cost-effective shelters and
public demonstration projects can help craft a new tropical image for the enjoyment of
current residents and for the benefit of island tourism here on the Big Island. In the
near future, grants to fund low-cost housing projects and other projects that add value
to our tourist product will be aggressively pursued by B.V.H. It is our hope that the
values of sustainability and the natural beauty embodied by bamboo will inspire all of
Hawaii and its visitors toward respect for the land.
Did you know that if everyone on the island with an acre or more planted appropriate
bamboo along their boundaries instead of a fence, both neighbors would enjoy excellent
protection from wind and intruders, great privacy, food for themselves and livestock,
an annual yield of materials to build structures and furniture, not to mention the tropical
beauty of the bamboo itself which would last for generations to come?
For more details and professional analysis of bamboo’s potential in Hawaii see
The Bamboo Report by Leimana Pelton and local architect, Valerie Simpson.