Motivations for Planting Bamboo Plantations

 

Giant Clumping, Tropical Bamboo

Planting

Meters

Per ha

Row Spacing

8

12.5

Spacing in Rows

4

25.0

Plants/ha

313

Annual Yield

Culms/stand

3.5

Culms/ha

1,093.8

Culm dry weight

30

kg

Tons/ha

32.81

Comparative Plantation Establishment Costs of Bamboo vs Eucalyptus

There are also other hidden costs to consider: -

  • Planting costs, Eucalyptus 1,667 plants / ha while bamboo 313 plants / ha Eucalyptus is 5.33 times higher.
  • Weeding and maintenance - bamboo only for one year, Eucalyptus 12 to 18 months. Eucalyptus is at least 5.33 times higher.
  • Coppice (re-harvestable growth from the stump or roots) Eucalyptus, this is generally only done twice at 8 years, i.e. the life of the plantation is 24 years. Then the expense of replanting is incurred together with the cost of destumping or use of herbicide. Giant Bamboo continues to regenerate new shoots throughout its life 60 to 120 years.
  • Cash flow cycles - Eucalyptus 8 year cycles, bamboo 5 years to begin with and then an annual cash flow is generated.
  • Timber and Eucalyptus is clear cut with significant impacts on: -
    • The habitat destruction of wildlife and flora is catastrophic
    • Erosion is a significant factor and risk
    • Mycorrhizae and microbial the health of the soil is devastated
    • Aesthetically the impact is profound
  • With bamboo only 30% of the culms are harvested leaving the canopy and environmental integrity intact.
  • Extraction Costs, while Eucalyptus is denser it means mechanical extraction is imperative, on steep terrain this is challenging. With bamboo a combination of both mechanical and manual labour can be employed to optimise extraction in challenging environments and creates additional job opportunities. If splitting and chipping is done at the extraction point the lower density of bamboo can be mitigated.
  • Bamboo is more easily harvested and processed manually; this makes it a lower barrier to entry crop that can be cultivated by rural farmers and homesteads.
  • Water uptake of the plantation (Eucalyptus roots can descend to 30m, large trees can suck up over 700L of water a day). Bamboo’s root depth is limited to 60cm and its water efficiency is superior to Eucalyptus
  • Under optimal soil and rainfall bamboo yields more than 30 tons per ha, comparable if not superior to Eucalyptus.
  • Product, while the market for bamboo products is new, they are recognised as being "greener" and more sustainable

 

Let’s assume the bamboo plantation lasts only 60 and not 120 years: -

Summary Comparative Table: -
Plantation Management & Establishment Costs

 

Per Ha Costs

Bamboo

Higher

Eucalyptus

A

Plant  Cost

1

x

4

B

Planting

1

x

5.12

C

Maintenance

1

x

5.12

D

Over 60 years (all of the above, compounded)

1

x

2.5

 

Total = [(A+B+C) ÷ 3] x D

1

x

11.86