Bamboo for carbon sequestration

report coverINBAR recently released another report about bamboo and climate change. The report promotes the potential of bamboo as a core resource to mitigate the effects of climate change. Drawing on a range of INBAR projects and initiatives, the report suggests three main ways bamboo can mitigate climate change: bamboo as a carbon sink; durable bamboo products; and, bamboo-based biofuel and bioenergy. The report is rather broad-based and its purpose as a policy document precludes any in-depth analysis. No mention is made of bamboo phytoliths and their role in climate change mitigation.

bamboo plant opalAs you will recall from a previous post, phytoliths, or plant opal, are microscopic siliceous bodies which occur in living plants. Work is currently underway in Australia and China to investigate opportunities to sequester carbon using phytolith-occluded carbon. Carbon dating has established that plant opals and the carbon stored within them, are highly resistant to decomposition and will stay in the soil for thousands of year, remaining stable even after volcanic explosions, forest fires and earthquakes.

Not all phytoliths have the capacity to store significant amounts of carbon though. A current project at Southern Cross University is investigating the range of agricultural and grass crops, including bamboo, that do have the capacity. The potential exists for reducing carbon emissions in the order of 1.5 billion tonnes a year simply by having farmers choose high-plant opal carbon yielding cultivars of crops they already grow.

bamboo, bamboo leaf, bamboo leaves, health, herbal tea, Hokkaido, Japan, tea

Sasa bamboo

The same holds true for bamboo. Careful selection of bamboo species can dramatically increase the sequestration of carbon within the phytoliths. Recent research in China looked into the phytolith content of the leaves of 75 species of bamboo. Sasa came out on top. But Sasa is not a major commercial species on the scale of say, Moso.

Another 2014 Chinese study looked at the potential for carbon sequestration in Moso forests. The study found that the carbon content of phytoliths is dependent upon the parent material underlying the soil in which the bamboo grows.

It’s astounding and timely research work. Solutions for climate change mitigation are right under our noses. Of course, here in Australia we have a government that insists that climate change is not real, so we don’t need to worry.

References:

Everyday Bamboo – South Korea

Like Japan, bamboo in South Korea is firmly embedded in the local material culture. In this post I’m sharing a few everyday bamboo things I came across while wandering around southern parts of South Korea earlier this year.

bamboo gloves

EvrdyBamboo SK (7)Lightweight white cotton gloves have a thousand and one uses. These ones are bamboo though. They are intimidatingly pristine fresh out of the packet. Just the thing for protecting your hands against blisters from bamboo brooms.

bamboo saltSouth Korea is an especially great place for eating, (although maybe a little challenging for vegetarians). Snack foods abound. I found these roasted almonds with bamboo salt in the local supermarket. Very tasty. The same supermarket sold bamboo salt toothpaste.

Damyang is rightly famous for dining out, and is famed throughout South Korea for it bamboo dishes. As a major bamboo centre, Damyang also has plenty of shops specialising in just bamboo products. They smell fantastic.

bamboo

bambooThe 4 hour bus trip from Busan to Gwangu, (to get to Damyang), is broken up with a stop at a standard highway roadhouse. There is lots of food, bathroom facilities, clothing stores and stalls selling useful things. One stall was like a mini hardware (my kinda shop). Amongst its impressive selection, it sold everything you’d need to harvest bamboo: like bamboo saws, bamboo knives, splitter, gloves… Just in case you’ve come out without yours.

Do you have a favourite everyday bamboo story?

Bamboo on the Internet for November, 2014 – my picks

It’s a slim month for things bamboo on the Internet that really grabbed my attention. There are, however a few things of interest,

  • bamboo wind turbine…like bamboo wind turbines. With developing nations in mind, engineers at the University of Vermont have designed a micro energy harvesting system. Incorporating a deep-cycle battery, the mini wind turbines can generate enough power to run LED lights and charge small devices like mobile phones.
  • burger makingIn case you were wondering how to make the Japanese black burgers that were seen all over social media recently, here is a pictorial guide. Amazon have some powdered bamboo charcoal if you don’t want to crush your own.
  • bamboo headphonesBamboo features again in another vegan product. Techly reviewed these gorgeous-looking $1,300 headphones very favourably. They are leather-free, so I guess that’s the vegan bit. If $1,300 has you choking on your egg-free carrot cake, Amazon have some used ones. Although they don’t seem to be the vegan version. [Disclaimer: I’m quite fond of pork with my bamboo shoots.]
  • Just plain weird department: 21 porcelain dolls on bamboo stakes in an Alabama swamp. (Read more here)

Bear Creek Swamp is a massive bog with a bit of a reputation locally. As a rite of passage, generations of teenagers have entered the area at night looking for creatures and haints said to roam the mist-covered realm. And it’s not unusual to hear reports of loud booms coming from its depths.

  • Big news for bamboo growers in the state of Maharashtra, north-eastern India. A new policy was approved  that removes the forest department restrictions on cutting and transport of specified bamboo species from private plantations. The implications are huge for employment potential. More here.

Bamboo activism

Going about in Taiwan, like other countries with an abundance of bamboo, it is inspiring to be amongst bamboo creations from the mundane to the extraordinary. This post is about a once-ordinary, now less common bamboo construction being used to promote autonomous rule for the Amis village of Farangaw, Taitung County.

bamboo boat, bamboo raftIn the south of Taiwan, a bamboo boat is under construction employing techniques unused since the Japanese occupation 100 years ago. The traditional techniques are recalled only in oral history by five Amis elders in their 70s and 80s. The maiden voyage of the bamboo vessel will be an inspection to lay claim to the village’s traditional maritime territories, as well as rally support more generally for Aboriginal autonomy in Taiwan.

The Amis are the largest ethnic group among Aboriginal Taiwanese. Traditionally, Amis villages are in close proximity to the sea. As well close ties to the ocean, bamboo features in Amis material and spiritual culture. One Amis spiritual practice is performed by bamboo divinators. The cikawasay (like priests) predict fortunes by standing on the middle of a slim bamboo branch and lifting both ends of it. The fortune is foretold according to the shape of the cracking gap in the bamboo.

bamboo pavilion, Amis autonomy

Considered experts in bamboo construction, local Amis built this pavilion used for an arts festival.

There is something of a resurgence in traditions and cultural identity for Taiwan’s Aboriginal population, though perhaps not bamboo divination. An increasing number of Amis are replacing their Chinese names with Amis names. Aboriginal political and social movements are swelling. Drafts of legislation for Aboriginal autonomy, already drawn out for years, are always strongly criticised by Aboriginal activist groups and academics. But what a behemoth they face in China.

bamboo raft, bamboo boatIn the course of researching this post I came across a boat in Taiwan based on the traditional design of a bamboo raft such as the one pictured above. Instead of using bamboo, huge PVC pipes were incorporated into the design. The pipes were bent the same way as bamboo – with heat. The vessels take only about six days to build. The story and more images here. Perhaps the Farangaw villagers should have considered PVC instead of bamboo: some were accused by local authorities of stealing bamboo to make the raft.

References and further reading:

Takesumi – bamboo charcoal

takesumi, bamboo charcoalContinuing with the Japan focus from the previous post, this post revisits bamboo charcoal with a particular focus on health. Takesumi is derived from carbonised bamboo and demonstrates the same remarkable adsorptive qualities. As a nutritional supplement takesumi is generally ingested for its detoxification properties, especially after exposure to environmental contaminates.

Claims are made that bamboo charcoal:

  • has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties;
  • emits far infrared rays (to improve circulation) and negative ions;
  • protects the body from EMF’s emitted by the electrical devices we surround ourselves with;
  • is a natural source of macro and trace minerals;
  • is alkalizing; and,
  • adsorbs myco and endotoxins, and radiation.

takesumi, bamboo charcoalThe adsorptive qualities of takesumi that provide the detox benefits are also exploited for extending the life of fresh produce and purifying drinking water. Healthy living blog, Japanese Wall also suggests that takesumi can “make wine more fragrant whilst removing its tartness, and also make tea tastier by reducing the acidity.”

takesumi, bamboo charcoalTakesumi-Power Bali recommends that her followers put some pieces of takesami in the water when cooking rice. “It will absorb chlorine, bad odor and toxic substances from water [and] the taste of the rice will be something you have never experienced before.” If the image is true, it won’t make your rice black. If you don’t find that appealing, there’s always takesumi candy, takesumi coffee, tea, or takesumi crackers (if you’re in Japan and can read Kanji).

takesumi, bamboo charcoal, kiln

The charcoal kiln at I’m Home B&B

Researching takesumi online also unearthed a rather idyllic looking B&B in New Zealand that makes takesumi. The Kyoto-expat owners describe takesumi as “mysterious bamboo charcoal.” The B&B property has its own charcoal kiln and they produce a very interesting-looking range of takesumi products, including powdered bamboo charcoal and bamboo leaf charcoal. Another use for bamboo charcoal that they suggest is as a dietary supplement for animals.

An Amazon search for takesumi yielded mostly fountain pen ink, and it’s not even clear if the black is from bamboo charcoal. eBay at least had one seller for takesumi. Do you have a friend in Japan?

References and further reading:

Everyday bamboo – Japan

toygirlBamboo is an integral part of material culture in Japan. Nearly everywhere you go in Japan you see examples of bamboo uses in the landscape, architecture, art, craft, kitchens, bathrooms, gardens… By turns beautiful, intricate, functional, and sometimes, just simplicity itself. This week I’m sharing a few examples of ultra-simple bamboo solutions for take away food, barriers, fencing, ritual cleansing, dividers, gates, borders … let’s start with toys. toy

Surely, this must be as simple as it gets to keep kids amused using bamboo. (Compare the bamboo toys on Amazon!) These were made at a school in Hachioji. The girl certainly looks very pleased with them. (Thanks, Chris). On a complexity scale, next may be the taketombo. Here’s a YouTube demo. Learn to make one here.

Near the entrance to temples in Japan, temizuya, or chōzubachi, often use bamboo as a means of keeping the water scoops in easy reach. This one is in Ueno Park, Tokyo. cleansing ritual, bamboo

At a Sunday flea market in Kyoto these bamboo skewers solve that pesky issue of the meat sliding around on a round skewer.

bamboo skewers

This ultra-simple barrier keeps the larger stones where they belong in the sublime gardens of Ōkōchi Sansō in Arashiyama.

bamboo barrier

bamboo fencesbamboo fencesFencing in Japan can be elaborate. It can also be minimal and uncomplicated. These fences act primary as barriers in temples in Kyoto and Arashiyama.

bamboo frameCross sections of large bamboo culms make an eye-catching wall divider in a Tokyo restaurant. (Thanks again, Chris). bamboo branch gateA few bamboo branches sandwiched and lashed with a couple of small bamboo poles vastly improves this otherwise ordinary gate in a temple in Kyoto.

Everyday bamboo shall continue…

Bamboo on the Internet for October, 2014 – my picks

  • bamboo camperFrom Zenbox Design: A lightweight bamboo-clad mini camper. Towed by a Mini Minor. With a skylight to see the stars at night. More images at Zenbox. The dog looks happy.
  • Bamboo yarn got a mention here recently. I hadn’t thought of it before, but bamboo yarn is not only soft and silky, it’s vegan too! The PETA blog assures us that no cruelty is committed by using bamboo yarn.
  • bamboo, birdwatching towerThe Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency constructed a bamboo bird watching tower near Doyang as part of a bamboo promotion campaign.

bamboo and plastic greenhouse

  • Green Building Elements this month featured a lightweight greenhouse built from plastic drink bottles and bamboo – architect designed, no less. This one is now in operation on a farm near Hanoi.

  • More awesome bamboo architecture in Vietnam. This 750-seat hotel restaurant in Son La uses a local bamboo called Luong that grows to 8 metres high.

SonLa restaurant96 bamboo column units composed of 4 bamboos together induce the vertical expression of the bamboo structure like bamboo forest.

The bamboo was treated in a traditional method by soaking in it mud and then smoking it. I highly recommend a viewing of the other images on the Arch Daily website.