(Click for PDF executive summary)
Overview: According to the UN and World Bank’s Carbon Initiative, about 3 billion people are relying on the traditional use of biomass (charcoal and wood) for cooking every night. This is a leading cause of severe deforestation in the UN’s 46 Least Developed Countries. It is also the biggest source of atmospheric pollution - estimated to be 17% of world anthropogenic CO2 output and is mis-classified as "forest use".
In addition, the methods are poor, creating poor quality fuel (900% more biomass consumed than necessary), and which results in indoor air pollution killing an estimated 5 to 7 million each year (respiratory infection in #1 WHO cause of death in LDCs -- note - Aids 1.7M deaths, Malaria 0.6 M deaths)
This project is developing local leadership to create communities committed to sustainable methods for creating renewable, clean biomass fuel (Certified Stewardship Bamboo Forests) - mostly in the 46 Least Developed Countries (UN LDC).
Background - In poverty stricken countries, people need to meet their energy needs, they take trees from the existing forests and burn them green to create charcoal for personal use and to sell. Since the charcoal process is done poorly, 500% more biomass than necessary is harvested and consumed than necessary. Inefficient stoves double this consumption number for the same household energy provided.
Our Approach: Establish sustainably harvested Bamboo Forests as the economic engine to alleviate poverty, grow renewable energy, and reverse the environmental trends.
In addition to fuel, Bamboo can be used as a protein food (bamboo shoots), and can replace other hardwoods for building material, furniture, flooring, can be used to make resins and plastics, can be used to replace cotton in textiles, and bamboo charcoal can be used to improve the soil for food farming.
Why Bamboo? Bamboo is one of the highest biomass/acre plants available. Its harvestable in 3 to 5 years as a hardwood. Unlike trees, bamboo can be harvested without killing the plant, so it grows back the next season. Its grass like root structure, which remains after harvesting and accounts for 50% of the biomass generated. As harvesting leaves the plant alive, the remaining root structure prevents soil erosion, unlike tree harvesting. Unlike other crops, bamboo requires little or no pesticides to grow, because of a natural bio-agent that is bound to the plant at the molecular level.
Port-au-Prince Haiti consumes 115,000 Tons of charcoal annually for cooking. Haiti imports $24M of toilet paper. Sustainably Harvested Bamboo Forest can create these products locally while providing all the environmental benefits of the forest.
With the growth of demand for environmentally friendly green products, the world bamboo market is expected to double by 2015 (from USD 10 billion to USD 20 billion) (Xuhe, 2003). If only 4% of the deforested land in the world were replanted with Bamboo Forests that were sustainably harvested, 1 GTon of CO2 would get removed form the atmosphere annually, enough to win the Virgin Earth Prize.
Establishing a Bamboo Supply Chain starting with rural villages in places like Haiti and Tanzania, will create a community of entrepreneurs. In Haiti, the goal is 10 self-sufficient, sustainable villages with 25,000 acres of Bamboo Forest serving 50,000 people using deforested land. Villages, in the truest sense, include places to live, work, play and learn.
Depending on the species grown, a sustainable harvested Bamboo forest can provide:
1. Building materials - 2" to 6" thick poles that are ideal for lightweight buildings, furniture and can be processed into hardwood flooring and roofing. They can also be processed into composites for windows and shutters (stronger than steel and far lighter weight)
2. Energy - Can be processed into charcoal or liquid fuels. Excess heat from fuel extraction is available for space heating or industrial processing (see below)
3. Textiles, Paper and Packaging - bamboo can be "steam exploded" into fiber for textiles, paper, packaging and composites. Bamboo can replace cotton in most fabrics and is a naturally antimicrobial, anti-fungal fabric. Bamboo fibers are stiffer than most other materials used in composites.
4. Food - bamboo shoots are a protein food and can be separately harvested from the same forest as the poles above
5. Soil amendments - industrial output from the above processes can still be used to improve soils (bio-char), leaving almost no residual output from the harvest.
6. Additional economic potential includes carbon credits and sequestration grants because reforesting deforested lands creates a carbon sink, and all the outputs permanently sequester the CO2 in the Biomass.
The project includes community development to cover not only economic needs, but to insure long term sustainability. Once community self-sufficiency is reached, excess output can be sold to existing local markets.
Sustainable methods for water management and forest management will support long term economic development for the community.
About Charcoal - Thermal Conversion Systems are capable of processing bamboo and generating $1000/acre annual income from charcoal sales made from the waste material in making flooring, scaffold/building poles, etc. The process heat can be used for for making paper, cooking, for space heating or for steam exploding bamboo for textile fiber. The "biomass efficiency" is 10 times improvement over the current methods!