Reforestation with bamboo as an ecological alternative

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A project with bamboo in Cuba covers the spectrum from “In Vitro” reproduction to the use and marketing of bamboo as construction material, furniture and handcrafts. It is located in three provinces affected by the loss of productive capacity of the land due to its intensive use for cattle and agriculture, as well as the loss of their native woods for fuel and as a construction material. 

The agricultural programs carried out in Cuba between 1970 and1980, required immense areas of land for production of sugar, rice and cattle breeding. The production scheme required felling existing woods to prepare the land for agricultural use. This system could not survive the changes in the Cuban economy during the special decade after 1990, which implied a drastic reduction of available energy. As a result large extensions of land have been abandoned and have lost more and more its productive capacity. The aforementioned phenomena have had repercussions in the lives and development of the small communities that have seen their industrial, agricultural and constructive activities continually diminish. Notable has been the increased housing deficit. This deterioration of quality of life in the rural communities has aggravated the surrounding environment, with the increasing deforestation of areas that still have woods, a situation principally due to the lack of firewood for domestic use and in some local productions, like the production of building materials.

To try and provide a solution to this problem, a project, financed by the Swiss cooperation agency COSUDE, pretends to introduce the productive use of bamboo in these regions as an alternative to the degradation of soils and, also, as a source of local income through its applications. The project has three lines of work: a) Propagation and cultivation of bamboo, b) Use and application of bamboo, and c) Production of materials and houses.

To guarantee fast propagation the project has transferred the technology of “propagation in vitro” of the “Guadua Angustifolia” specie and, at the same time, created a network of nurseries where the “vitro” plants can be acclimatized. Approximately 1200 ha will be cultivated with bamboo, of which 60% is Guadua Angustifolia and the rest with different species for construction use. Most of the bamboo will be used in a variety of building materials and directly in the construction of houses. A network of workshops has been built up for the industrial production of compressed wood panels composed of several layers of woven bamboo stripes manufactured in small artisan workshops. Waste from the process is used for combustion briquettes that are used by local producers of fired clay bricks. All these materials are used in one way or another for the construction of the habitat..

The project is in its first year and is located in the provinces of Granma, Holguin and Villa Clara. The goal is to create a local bamboo economy, that allows the revitalization of small rural settlements. The massive seeding of bamboo will contribute in an effective way to reverting the situation of the arid soils, and in a general way towards creating a better environment for the zone.

 

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You are here: Home Past editions Edition #21, August 2006 Reforestation with bamboo as an ecological alternative

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