Can Bamboo Save Haiti?

Crowdfunding sites are becoming some of my favorite spots online to hit when I’m looking for unique stories. A browse through Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Greenfunder (which I just discovered today) brings up all sorts of innovative projects aimed at implementing sustainable practices in many different forms.

Today, the concept I came across was growing bamboo in Haiti. Proponents like ForΓ¨ Bamboo (an organization I discovered on Greenfunder) claim the fast-growing plant can help Haitians still recovering from last year’s earthquake in a number of ways: providing a very strong building material, shoring up topsoil against erosion, reversing deforestation, and providing economic opportunities to Haitian farmers. You can see more about their plans in the video above.

Sounds perfect, right…? I think there’s a lot of merit to the concept, but I immediately wondered about biodiversity issues: is bamboo invasive? In many cases, yes… Architecture for Humanity claims that fast-growing equals fast-spreading; it also notes that the concept of using bamboo in Haiti to address the issues listed above is pretty popular among aid organizations. Still, the organization doesn’t dismiss efforts to use bamboo as a tool to address the island nation’s numerous economic, environmental, and development challenges… it just notes that “it’s not a silver bullet.”

In their Greenfunder appeal, ForΓ¨ Bamboo does note their efforts to develop nurseries in Haiti involves “non-invasive, construction-grade bamboo”… so it appears they are thinking about the potential downsides to introducing non-native species to the island. And no doubt there are many potential benefits… so time to add another topic to the tracking list.

Know more about efforts to use bamboo as an economic and environmental resource in Haiti? Seen them? Would love to get any first-hand (or even second-hand) accounts of endeavors to meet Haiti’s many challenges with the plant… as well as your reactions to this particular organization’s plans.

Image credit: R45 at Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license

  1. kim

    Before you write above invasive bamboos you might read up on them. Haiti has native bamboos, and tropical bamboos, such as those that can grow there are not generally invasive. It is mostly temperate bamboos that live up to this reputation. The tropical, south american bamboo, guadua angustifolia for example, is as durable as tropical hardwoods and needs no chemical treatment.

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