Guadua Bamboo Reforestation at PermaTree in Ecuador

Transformation by bamboo reforestation

Since January 2020 we have been weekly and daily planting a handful of bamboos within the so denominated “MachuPichu” zone near the main PermaTree bamboo house. Before January 2020 we transplanted larger areas with bamboo and amounts of bamboo plants in 5-10 days in a row. But with a team of 5 persons helping on site here at Finca Yantza in PermaTree, Ecuador.

How are we approaching the reforestation? Are we reforesting all the 80Has? Or half of it? Hell no. We are selecting zones. Which are critical. Those zones can be lined up plants or “pata gallina” triangular (A-Shape 3 plants. Next V-shape 3 plants. etc. ) to densify the reforestation effect. Lets call it a smarter approach than reforesting 50’000 seedlings on 50Has area. Why? Well actually we are just helping nature to do it’s job. But slightly designing it… This is also sometimes called “assisted natural regeneration strategy” or “applied nucleation”. Also “tree islands”. This which involves planting only a very small number of seedlings that attract birds and other seed dispersers, which can spread seeds around the tree islands / zones. Gradually, these tree islands turn into intact diverse forests. Additionally we have been able to identify local trees that attract birds because of their flowers which are growing all over the areas so the seeds have been lying in the soil for some time and now they are sprouting.

Now that there are only a very few uf us left here. Normally 1 or 2 persons which have time for the transplanting of seedlings, the process is fragmented over a much larger amount of time. But never less we don’t stop. This is a long-term transformation process which was started back in March 2016 (History). Until today over 1000 diverse bamboo seedlings have been successfully transplanted. Aside to the more than 6000 diverse tropical fruit trees. All in various selected more or less accesible areas of 0,25 to 1.25 Has in size.

Long-term Transformation

The process takes some time. First the bamboo plants need to have a size and a amount of leafs to be able to survive within their new natural soundings once transplanted. This generally means thats the seedling will be taken care off for about 12 month before being transplanted at its final destination. Depending on the bamboo species, after the duration of 12 month the seedling is already over 150cm tall. Before the final transplanting act we need to clean the area where the whole will be dug for the seedling. The area around the hole needs to be cleaned from other plants so that the seedling will receive enough sun rays to grow fast. This takes time and needs to be repeated during the first 12 month after transplanting the seedling. Normally ever 2-4 weeks depending what seeds are trying to sprout from the soil. 

Birdview of the bottom part of the farm. All orange areas have bamboo. Yellow are is MachuPichu with pink circles representing one bamboo plant.

Bamboo reforestation status Jan to 14st May 2020

  • 10 Feb 2020 – Reforestation with bamboo! Here goes another giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper)
  • 23 Feb 2020 – More Guadua angustifolia “caña brava” transplanting 
  • 24 Feb 2020 – 14 bamboo transplanted in degraded cattle farming land
  • 18 March 2020 – Transplanting more Guadua angustifolia kunth brava
  • 29 March 2020 – Another day transplanting bamboo
  • 29 April 2020 – 10 bamboo plants
  • 7 May 2020 –  Total 9 plants: Moso bambú, Phyllostachys nigra, Fargesia robusta campbell
  • 10 May 2020 – 6 plants: Dendrocalamus asper, Moso bambú, Phyllostachys nigra, Fargesia robusta campbell
  • 14 May 2020 – Reforested a total of 9 bamboos 
Lowest part of the MachuPichu zone with Bamboo (Guadua angustifolia Kunth) on terraces.

Cattle farming

Cattle farming have caused extensive environmental damage in the amazon basin. And over-grazing of cattle, has been a significant cause of soil degradation. Step by step we are transforming this again into a microorganism enhances tropical humid soil. 

Reforestation with Bamboo

I have noticed that reforestation is not a big topic at all. It should be. There is no reforestation program I know of in Ecuador. Its not because it would not be needed. Yearly deforestation is at its all time high. Its just – not – yet a priority for anybody. Once there is no more fresh air. Like already know in the local cities. Time will make the people plants trees again. Time will tell. I believe. Never-less I also believe its key to talk about reforestation and spread the word. With bamboo its slightly faster – after waiting the 6 years till the bamboo plant is mature. And 30% of its trunks can be harvested, ideally at good moon, so it will last for very very long. Also don’t forget that harvesting the mature bamboo trunks (30%) will give the bamboo plant more energy again for young shoots. Its a cicle. 

Why do we at PermaTree believe that bamboo is much more than “only bamboo”?

Bamboo is amazing. Once you have all the relevant knowledge about bamboo and the uses you will be speechless. 

Did you know the following general bamboo facts?

  • Bamboo is technically a grass although you’ve likely seen it mistakenly described as a wood due to its tree-like appearance
  • Bamboo is extremely diverse, there are 1575 Bamboo species across five continents
  • Produces 30% more oxygen than the average tree 
  • Some bamboo shoots are edible. A common ingredients in stir-frys, soups, spring rolls, dumplings, and lots of other savory dishes.
  • Medicinal: Bamboo resin, leaves, and shavings are said to have medical uses for respiratory and digestive illnesses, fevers, and inflammation. In general, being around Bamboo reduces anxiety/stress and may decrease depression.
  • (co2 sequestration) How fast a plant grows has a part in determining how much CO2 it can absorb in a given time. One hectare (100×100 meters) of “moso bamboo” species can store up to 250 tons of carbon. 
  • It enhances biodiversity by giving new spaces to all kind of fauna such as birds, snakes and microorganisms which are linked to the bamboo root network. There is even a specific bamboo mushroom.
  • Bamboo plants prevent erosion on hillsides 
  • Bamboo requires no chemicals to thrive
  • History: Bamboo played a role in one of the first light bulbs that Thomas Edison initially created. Edison and his colleagues discovered that a carbonized bamboo filament in a light bulb could last over 1,200 hours. This led to the start of large-scale manufactured light bulbs in the year 1880
  • History: Bamboo was used in Alexander Graham Bell’s first phonograph in 1880. The first phonograph needle was made out of Bamboo. 
  • Bamboo actually has a tensile strength greater than steel.
  • Bamboo Is Naturally Antibacterial. Bamboo and cotton were tested for how much bacteria they killed over a 24-hour period, and the bamboo killed nearly all of the bacteria, while the cotton did not kill any.
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