Bamboo: You Can Almost See It Growing
Yesterday, I clicked on a You Tube video, produced by the BBC entitled "Bamboo Time Lapse Growth 24 Hours." I realize the footage was shot with time-lapsed photography, but the bamboo in the video grows remarkably fast, looking like a missile erupting from the ground. According to the narrator, bamboo can grow up to one meter a day.
Moso bamboo, the kind we use to make our plywood and flooring, grows fast. Maybe not as fast as BBC video bamboo, but still very fast. Our bamboo is ready to harvest in five years. Compare that with Douglas Fir which take about 80 years to grow* and our bamboo seems like it's attached to a growth-inducing turbo-charger.
Bamboo is a rapidly renewable natural resource. All things being equal, the faster a resource renews itself, the more sustainable it is. Plyboo uses a simple, effective forest management plan called the five year/twenty percent cycle. Every year we harvest twenty percent of our bamboo forest and plant an equivalent amount. Within five years, that twenty percent of the forest is ready for harvest. And so the cycle goes. The forest replenishes itself at the same rate in which it is harvested.
The bamboo is grown without irrigation, a mechanical process that would intrude on the natural forest as well as take water from one resource to deliver to another. Also, our bamboo grows without any fertilizer. All natural.
We never clear-cut our bamboo. The bamboo culms (stalks) a harvested from locations interspersed within the forest. This maintain topsoil and the stably of other plants in the area.
Plyboo doesn't use the gargantuan machinery so often used by other lumber companies. This machinery with it's enormous weight and huge wheels causes extensive erosion. Our bamboo is cut with old-world machetes and the stalks are transported out of the forest with modest-sized trucks, not much larger then a typical van or pickup truck.
Maintaining the integrity of the bamboo forest - or any forest - is not only important for the health of the lumber-bearing plants, but also it's vital for the health of the other plants and animals that make their home beneath the forest canopy. Sustainability for one species is engenders sustainability for all species.
Smith & Fong Plyboo was established in 1989 with the mission of promoting a lumber products that were derived from rapidly renewable and sustainably resources. Bamboo fit that description then, and as it does now.
And it makes some strong and beautiful flooring and plywood.