We went for a walk in a bamboo forest near Uvita, Costa Rica. The neatest thing about it was the sound, the way the wind moved through the swaying bamboo making it sing. It was lovely. The intensity of the wind gusts changed the sound. It was a kind of bamboo symphony.
As we were talking suddenly one of the stalks of bamboo crashed to the ground and it was so loud we both jumped!
In order to restore tropical forest that’s been clear cut the Costa Rican government has been planting a South American variety of bamboo since the mid 1990s. Bamboo is the fastest growing land plant and it can be a great source of cheap building material but also stabilizes clear- cut slopes helping to prevent soil erosion. During Hurricane Mitch parts of Costa Rica planted with bamboo just a few years earlier suffered no mudslides while other areas of Central America did. A regular tree can take 50 years to be ready for cutting, bamboo can be harvested 35 times in that period and re-grow, providing habitat for wildlife and soil stabilization. Bamboo also absorbs more carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.