At World Bamboo, we strive to provide the realities, the truth and the potentials of bamboo. We understand the complexities of bamboo as a renewable resource. While promoting the potential sustainability of bamboo, we also acknowledge “inconvenient truths” such as the challenge of certification, best management practices, chain of custody, and workers safety in the manufacturing of bamboo products, etc. These are some of the reasons why WBO is committed to seeing that bamboo gets the chance it deserves. Companies in the business of bamboo who are sourcing their material from other countries need to know the realities and the truths of how bamboo grows, how it is harvested, who owns the bamboo, how it is processed. Our aim is to assist companies in the business of bamboo in any way we can.
Some people may envision hundreds of thousands of acres of “bamboo plantation”, however even in the most abundant bamboo forests of China, most are owned and managed by families. The bamboo is owned and managed by family farmers, not large multi-national corporations. The increase in demand for bamboo products has improved the local standard of living in and around these bamboo forests, however most of these bamboo farmers don’t have the resources to apply chemical fertilizers or pesticides. It is common knowledge that the bamboo gets all the nutrition it needs from the leaves it sheds annually, so chemical fertilizers are not necessary. Proper management techniques often equate to healthy bamboo stands, so applying pesticides is not required, yet alone trying to "irrigate" giant bamboos on sloped hillsides. In other cases, the farmers don’t own the bamboo at all. In fact, the national government does. And we all know how difficult it is to get the truth out of that kind of scenario.
The burden of the high cost (and at times, the corruption involved) of obtaining forest certification is also a reality to these family farmers. World Bamboo does indeed appreciate the need for consumers to feel comfortable with the purchase of bamboo products, and World Bamboo is committed to being a part of promoting responsible and sustainable forestry practices. The pace of the modern industrialization of bamboo has quickened; the intricacies of accountability and truthful marketing is following a bit behind. At World Bamboo, we are confident that bamboo has a rightful place as a superior alternative to traditional timber and fiber sources.
Bamboo is a large group of plants (over 1,400 species) and it is a native plant on every continent except Europe and Antarctica. Yet even where it is not native, it has enormous potential as an environmental remediator. Bamboo could repair the destruction we human beings have wrought on this planet. Bamboo groves prevent erosion, clean the air, store carbon, provide habitat, provide food, provide biomass, provide resource, and provide opportunities for community development.
As Rebecca Reubens, Sustainable Product Designer at Tapini Bamboo Development Center (India), says, “In a world where transparency and certification is increasingly important, why not go beyond seeing bamboo as a 'green' material and look at its social, cultural and economic value as well vis-a-vis sustainability?” We agree. For bamboo to conserve its inherent green credentials, it is necessary for us as users, growers, developers, engineers, architects, scientists, etc, to focus on its technical, social, economic and cultural values. This way bamboo can deliver truly sustainable solutions.