Current Project: Expanding to Utilizing Renewable Timber BambooLeBeau Bamboo Nursery has been selling bamboo stock plants for eight years and now we've decided to expand into using the plant as a renewable resource. Why? Living in beautiful Southern Oregon has allowed for hiking, backpacking and cross country ski trips throughout the wildernesses in almost in our own backyards. As the world's population increases, we'd hate to see what was once trees and habitat turn into barren hillsides. Because of the little summer rain in our area, forests recover from logging slowly. Many forests which were logged 100 years ago still remain as brown hillsides today because tree seedlings are not able to survive their first summer without shade provided by mature trees. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world because, unlike trees, an entire grove is a single organism connected through the roots. Each new cane grows with the support of the rest of the plant - allowing the cane to reach its maximum height of up to 70' (maximum height depends on the species) within 45 days. In fact, some species of bamboo have been measured to grow two feet or more in a single day. Because it is such a fast-growing plant, about 1/6 of the grove can be harvested every year without reducing its vigor. The continual growth and harvest of bamboo causes it to use 20-30% more carbon than an equally-sized conifer forest. Even if the waste is burnt to create electricity, bamboo has a positive carbon intake. The timber can be processed into bamboo flooring, plywood or a variety of other products at various lumber mills located in our valley. Research is being conducted in China to convert bamboo to structural lumber as well, so far with positive results. Our plan is to start groves of 40 bamboo species in Southern Oregon. After maturity, which takes only five to seven years, the smaller canes from the groves will be harvestable. Not long after, full-sized timber can be cut to be milled. Waste, such as the tops and branches, can be used to generate electricity at a local BioMass. Bamboo flooring and plywood can be milled by gluing together the slats of split canes. Bamboo flooring has been tested to be at least 25% stronger than oak, and various manufacturing methods yield even stronger flooring.
Pictured is Phyllostachys edulis "Moso Bamboo" growing in California.