Nature Watch: Bamboo and Water Conservation

Nature Watch: Bamboo and Water Conservation

Bamboo has many uses and is more valuable than most people give it credit for. Not only is bamboo one of the fastest growing grasses in the world, but it is multifunctional. It is valuable especially in rural development. Not only can it be used as everything from construction materials, crafts, and musical instruments, to of course, sunglasses, but it has huge environmental impacts as well. Bamboo plants are great for conserving water especially for their ability to hold water for long periods of time and maintain underground water flow. It also contributes to natural environmental systems such as soil erosion control, land rehabilitation, and carbon sequestration.

Carbon Sequestration:

Bamboo captures large amounts of carbon dioxide which much like trees it then converts into oxygen. The really cool thing about bamboo though, is that even after it is harvested, it doesn’t stop functioning as a carbon sink. Even after the bamboo is harvested and used for something like construction materials, it doesn’t release the carbon dioxide. It still acts as an effective carbon sink.

Environmental Rehabilitation and Erosion Control:

Bamboo is also multifunctional for environmental rehabilitation. Currently bamboo is being presented as a potential for secondary type waste water treatment management through Root Zone Management or RZM which will help clean the water through the roots and rhizomes of the plant. That is not their only use however. Some species of bamboo have interconnected roots and rhizomes that tie together on river banks and prevent soil erosion. A definite plus for areas prone to landslides and soil erosion. Additionally, an added plus to bamboo is that bamboo, unlike trees, never needs to be clear-cut due to the way bamboo is harvested in the fields.

Water Conservation:

Bamboo plants are ideal for creating and maintaining watersheds as they maintain the quantity and quality of the water. The leafy canopies help protect smaller streams, as well as the stalks acting as a natural sediment barrier for rivers. In the rainier seasons, they store an insane amount of water in their roots and rhizomes, and redistribute it during the dry seasons.

All in all, bamboo is an amazing, yet underused and undervalued plant. It is multifunctional, fast growing, and fantastic for the environment. So ditch the wood and go grass!