Bamboo: The Essence of Sustainability








SELVA- Vida Sin Fronteras’ Program “Bamboo- the essence of sustainability,” was conceived in 1992 with numerous environmental and social – economic objectives in mind.

Located in the Amazon and Pacific coastal regions, naturally growing Bamboo forests cover approximately 600 thousand hectares in Ecuador; two per cent of the national territory. An additional 30,000 hectares are comprised of sown or cultivated bamboo, predominantly the Guadua Angustifolia variety.

Within this context, approximately 20 % of cultivated bamboo – in-between 5,000-5,800 hectares located in the Amazon Cuyabeno, San Pablo and Pisuri regions – corresponds to SVSF’s bamboo initiative, and was consolidated over a 25-year period in association with the Dutch and Norwegian Ministries of Foreign Affaires (APN); SVSF is particularly grateful to Arno Ambrosius, David Bergan, Lourens de Groot and Per Ranestad for their support in making this project a reality.


Environment protection is one of our principal considerations when emphasizing bamboo in the Amazon Rain forest as we consider the expansion and consolidation of this particular cultivation to be a very concrete and vital manner whereby the negative effects of climate change can be mitigated. According to the recently published United Nations report, corrective attempts to counteract climate change should be an international priority, especially if irreversible damage to the planet is to be avoided.  Scientists estimate that we have a maximum period of 12 years in which to address and resolve this rather serious problem.  While it is not our intention to pose as doomsday prophets, nevertheless we strongly support that pragmatic policies are urgently implemented in this direction.

What is the significance of bamboo in an Amazon Rainforest setting? Basically the answer lies in the specificity and positive features of the plant itself.

  • Bamboo is the plant species that absorbs the most CO2 from the atmosphere and as a fast growing grass that requires seasonal harvesting when the sprouts reach maturity, it does not release or produce carbon emissions, a major factor implicit in global warming.
  • The extensive and web like root system of Bamboo counters land erosion. This is particularly relevant along rivers and deforested lands.
  • One hectare of bamboo – the Guadua Angustifolia species – stores 30,000 litres of water and subsequently is vital in recuperating and maintaining hydraulic basins and over-exploited lands. Bamboo is nature’s pump; it absorbs water in the wet season and releases it when climatic conditions are dry. Furthermore it is estimated that 1 hectare of bamboo  produces fresh and uncontaminated water for 150 people. Curiously, and of historic interest, Simon Bolivar and Alexander von Humboldt were the first to mention this important finding.

These considerations coincide with the research of Keith Laidler published in The Guardian:

“Bamboo is one of the most successful plants on earth. With more than 1,500 species colonising a multitude of habitats from sea level to 12,000 feet, bamboo is a phenomenon of the vegetable kingdom. It can also add significant solutions to environmental problems to its list of successes.

After the Hiroshima bomb in 1945, bamboo survived the atomic blast closer to ground zero better than any other flora or fauna. It can also be used to “repair” soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agricultural techniques, while its complex network of roots are ideal for preventing soil erosion and flooding. Unlike most tree species, harvesting does not kill the bamboo, so topsoil erosion and other adverse effects of tree-felling are kept to a minimum.

Perhaps even more important, given the carbon dioxide emissions thought to be responsible for global warming and the threat to biodiversity, bamboo produces more than 35% more oxygen than trees. Research in Japan and elsewhere has demonstrated that bamboo can absorb as much as 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year, giving the plant a potentially crucial role in stabilising our planet’s atmosphere.”


Bamboo cultivation & production on SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras’ Amazon Reserve for Peace Aguarico


On the Amazon Reserve for Peace we have also made significant inroads in creating green bamboo corridors.  This is very important for the survival of wildlife because the expansion of the agricultural frontier, oil and mining concessions, have impacted very negatively on migration patterns.  The bamboo corridors or migratory highways in-between “islands” of rain forest, has permitted the re-unification of previously marooned monkey populations. Finally the bamboo corridors, and the productive use of bamboo, reduces the pressure on the natural Amazon Rain Forest and avoid, according to specialists, 10% of deforestation;


Puyo, the Capuchino monkey and his family migrating through bamboo corridors to and from SVSF Rainforest  Reserves


If rationality was self-evident then the need to foment bamboo would not require further discussion. Unfortunately humanity is self- absorbed in a market-based economy and price and value are best understood in a commodity form.

The conclusion of the article in The Guardian serves to illustrate this idiosyncrasy.

“More bamboo would undoubtedly help the environment – but we need to find more modern uses for the plant.For more than 4,000 years people have used bamboo in an astonishing variety of ways: paper, construction, food, weaponry, medicine and even as aphrodisiacs. However, most bamboo consumption is confined to South East Asia and Central America, where the most economically valuable species flourish. Except for garden canes, fishing rods and conservatory furniture, the plant has never found a major market niche in the developed world.”

Consequently an additional objective of SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras’ “Bamboo program”, independently of the intrinsically evident and positive environmental impacts of the plant, is to create the concept of an added value. We hereby introduce the first line of bamboo products, grown and nurtured on our Reserve in the Amazon and designed and fabricated in our Ilalo workshop.:








We expect to  introduce additional lines of bamboo products in the near future.  Proceeds from sales will be re-invested in SVSF’s:  medical assistance program for Amazon Indigenous Nationalities; food relief; reforestation; monitoring of oil & mining; and educational Rain forest expeditions.


At the same time we would like to emphasize that our professional abilities are limited to our activities in the Amazon Rain forest.  Consequently we are requesting partners who, unlike us, are well versed in sales and marketing.  This vital role will go a long way in finding pragmatic solutions to Climate change and Rain forest preservation.



Thank you in advance for your support and consideration,

Pieter Jan Brouwer




Arno Ambrosius
Mariana Almeida
David Dunham
Gustavo López Ospina
Gertjan Storm
Editor: Pieter Jan Brouwer

“Amazon Pink Dolphin” is the official blog of SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras. The intention of the blog is to generate debate on environmental issues; the Amazon Rain forest in particular. Contributions and support are done on a voluntary basis and do not imply institutional affiliation. Similarly opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the official position of SVSF.

All Title photographs of the Amazon Pink fresh water Dolphin are the creation of Kevin Schafer.







~ by SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras on 13 November, 2018.

8 Responses to “Bamboo: The Essence of Sustainability”

  1. I am a huge fan of SELVA and the work you do. It has been an amazing experience for me to be affiliated with this fantastic group. I love the way you are showcasing the beauty and importance of bamboo. Cannot wait to see these lamps because commercially available to all.

  2. I find your bamboo lamps artistic, aesthetically pleasing, tasteful and just plain exquisite. It is an ingenious way to use bamboo and it would be a privilege to have a piece of the amazon into one’s home. I am sure your lamps will be a huge success.

  3. When we renovated our kitchen some years ago, the choice of bamoo floor was inspired by my first visit to the Amazon with Selva. I like the design of the bamboo lamps, they are well designed and for sure the result of a lot of reflection.

  4. These lamps are beautiful, we can’t wait to have a few of them in our home!

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