Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Valiha Diffusion

Bamboo preserves Madagascar's habitats and soils


The fast-growing plant can also be used as a less-polluting alternative to traditional charcoal

Spotted: Madagascar has lost 29 per cent of its tree cover since 2000, with deforestation driven by the forestry industry, agriculture, and urbanisation. As well as losing vital carbon sinks, this deforestation also poses a serious threat to native plant and animal species, including lemurs.

Valiha Diffusion is an association whose mission is to protect, restore, and regenerate Madagascar’s tree cover and biodiversity through the planting of bamboo. The organisation plans and facilitates the creation of healthy bamboo forests while providing relevant training for communities to use and sell bamboo products.

Bamboo grows quickly – maturing between five and six years – and has a high biomass content, producing between 15 to 50 tonnes per hectare each year. If well managed, over a 20-year period, one bamboo plantation can produce 455 tonnes of biomass, in contrast with a eucalyptus plantation, which would only yield 60 to 80 tonnes.

In addition, bamboo captures up to 30 per cent more CO2 than hardwood forests, acting as a much more space-efficient carbon sink. Bamboo forests also help to naturally regenerate degraded soils and replenish groundwater levels thanks to their underground rhizome systems.

Once harvested, the bamboo can be used to produce construction materials, handicrafts, and baskets, supporting local craftspeople. Alternatively, bamboo can also be turned into charcoal, reducing the pressure on existing forests and providing local communities with a cleaner source of bioenergy. Around 82 per cent of Malagasy households use wood or charcoal as their main source of fuel, but bamboo could act as the perfect alternative, given that it produces significantly less smoke and air pollution when burnt.

Springwise has spotted other innovators who see the potential in bamboo, including one company using it to make toilet roll and another that’s turning it into modular homes.

Written By: Lauryn Berry and Matilda Cox




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