EcoPlanet Bamboo Featured by South African Magazine Plaastoe
1st April 2016
Bathurst - the Centre of the Universe
Whilst visiting Mark Harris on his pineapple farm he takes me past a new bamboo project. He sold 500 hectares of his land to EcoPlanet Bamboo for the development of a bamboo plantation that focuses on providing a secure and certified source of fibre for timber manufacturing industries.
I make contact with Troy Wiseman, CEO of EcoPlanet Bamboo, in the USA to find out more. “We have 72% of the farm under bamboo and the other 28% of the farm has been set aside for biodiversity and conservation purposes.
“We have 72% of the farm under bamboo and the other 28% of the farm has been set aside for biodiversity and conservation purposes.”
“Our first operations were based in Nicaragua where we planted from native bamboo seed. Due to a unique and complicated flowering regime, access to bamboo seed is rare. In 2011 we wanted to prove that we could utilize tissue culture plantlets at commercial scale. These are not genetically modified, but just plants that are grown from the cells of parent plants in a laboratory.
Although there were, at that time, two companies producing such plantlets for timber bamboo, this transition from laboratory to large-scale field was something that no one had ever been successful in doing before.“We chose South Africa and the Eastern Cape for a number of reasons.
First the species we plant, Bambusa balcooa, is naturalized in South Africa and occurs and thrives across the Eastern Cape. Secondly the Bathurst area meets our various stringent land selection criteria. We look at land that has been farmed for long periods of time under chemical systems. It is also important to us to provide work to communities that are underemployed.
“Under EcoPlanet Bamboo’s sustainable management regime, bamboo is a truly renewable fibre. EcoPlanet is the first commercial bamboo company globally to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. South Africa, through EcoPlanet, is one of only two countries on the planet, which has met this international forestry sustainability standard for commercial scale bamboo plantations.”
The clumping bamboo plants reach maturity within six to seven years of planting. A portion of each plant is harvested each year. This ensures that the harvesting is sustainable and that there will be a secure and long-term source of fibre.
Troy tells me about the laboratory on the farm and processing of bamboo after harvest. “Our farm has been designed as a full life-cycle system, in conjunction with onsite processing facilities, and a commercial scale R&D and testing laboratory. The raw bamboo will be processed on site, through an innovative and clean system, into activated carbon. This product will then be sold domestically into the South African market. Applications include water filtration systems for municipal, mining and household use. We aim to create a number of jobs, from completely unskilled labour, to graduate level professionals who will work in our laboratory. We also aim to provide the South African market with a product that is currently imported with long delivery times and poor quality control.”
If you would like to find out more about this alternative farming company go to www.ecoplanetbamboo.com/video
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