Over the past few months EcoPlanet Bamboo's team has been involved in a country wide feasibility study in Rwanda, East Africa. As part of this work our team has been looking at Rwanda's existing bamboo resources, and, as in many countries, have come across the ubiquitously available Bambusa vulgaris and its various sub-species.
As part of EcoPlanet's mission and vision to industrialize bamboo globally under the strictest framework of environmental and social sustainability, raising awareness on the importance of site-species and product-species selection is critical. (Read a related posting on the Bamboo Plantations Blog about the importance of scientifically rigorous species selection here.)
Bambusa vulgaris is a characteristic bamboo with medium sized culms of a deep shade of green. A common sub-species, Bambusa vulgaris vittata, is easily identified by the tightly clumping bright yellow culms, many of which also have characteristic striking green stripes intermingled with the bight yellow, creating an attractive and vivid contrast to this unique bamboo species. Combined with the fact that this species can tolerate a wide range of climates, geographies, topographies and soils, it is likely that its striking look has significantly contributed to the planting of clumps across much of the tropical and sub-tropical world However, planting a species for visual purposes is one thing, trying to transition this same species into having commercial value is entirely different, and the two do not always align. Tropical clumping bamboo species, even if planted for ornamental purposes, require active and on-going management, and therefore understanding the potential uses or usefulness of the harvested culms of any widely available species is becoming increasingly important.
Bambusa vulgaris can unfortunately be categorized as a "low quality" bamboo. But what exactly makes its value so much lower than other species? Here at EcoPlanet Laboratories we decided to do some comparison on the value of Bambusa vulgaris against Yushania alpina, targeting the specific application of the conversion of mature culms into bamboo charcoal and associated carbonized products.
All processing was done using the high yielding kiln technology developed by our sister company, Core Carbon, while the analysis and testing was done by us utilizing our laboratory, on site at the Kowie Bamboo Farm. The following results were determined, indicating that even for the production a bamboo charcoal, Bambusa vulgaris is not an ideal species choice, and that the quality of product will be lower than if other species are used (in this case the comparison is against the second most widely available species in Rwanda, Yushania alpina).
All bamboo samples under analysis came from mature culms, harvested at the same time and left to air dry for the same period. All other factors remained identical for control.
These results only serve to emphasize the importance of product-species selection for the growing of bamboo. There are a number of species that can tolerate the same climate and conditions, that would have a higher value from a utilization standpoint. With wood and fibre becoming an increasingly scare resource across many countries, ensuring the right species are planted to maximize bamboo's potential, is critical.
Harvesting and Sampling of Different Culm Sizes of Bambusa vulgaris
Harvesting and Sampling of Yushania alpina
Contact us for more information on the various bamboo testing and research that we carry out at EcoPlanet Laboratories, or for more information on the technical, operational and consultancy services that our multi-national and experienced team of bamboo experts can provide.