Whither Our Embrace of Bamboo: Observations from Forest, Farm and Factory

By Jonathan M. Scherch.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Bamboo resources have quickly become a popular economic engine in many parts of the world – but short-term performance and gains aside, is the long-term view of bamboo resource industries and economies sustainable? The author asserts no unless deliberate actions are taken to address and resolve commonly unsustainable methods and measures of efficacy. Prolific use of petrol-chemical fertilizers in cultivation, similarly energy-intensive production and manufacturing of goods of variable quality performance, long supply chains targeting distant markets requiring increasingly uncertain petroleum-fueled transport and sustainability policy / practice disconnects are common features of current and prospective bamboo industry developments. In short, while this resilient and valuable plant is capable of a sustaining presence, contemporary means and methodologies of its utilization seem otherwise. Nonetheless, opportunities abound for timely and rewarding innovation. Beyond conservation and efficiency measures, bamboo resource industries can and must serve as venues for design strategies for sustainable bamboo resource systems and offer demonstrable vanguard leadership for achieving expectations for social, economic and ecological performance. Accordingly, the author offers first-hand observations and perspectives derived from teaching, research and field work in China during 2006/07 for advancing bamboo resource systems towards sustainability. Recommendations and implications for sustainability beyond bamboo resources are offered.

Keywords: Bamboo Resource Systems, Sustainable Community Development, Sustainable Business, Sustainable Agriculture, Ecological Design, Education, Social Work, Scherch

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.163-178. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.276MB).

Dr. Jonathan M. Scherch

Core Faculty, Graduate Programs in Environment & Community, Center for Creative Change, Antioch University Seattle, Seattle, Washington, USA

Scherch’s earlier work focused on studies of bioregionalism and related social, economic and environmental contexts. More recently, his work leads him around the world - into Tibetan refugee settlements in India, into bamboo forests in China and into slum communities in Bangladesh. In 2006/07, he completed a 7-month sabbatical in China, teaching and conducting collaborative inquiries on bamboo resource systems for sustainable development at Zhejiang Forestry University. He presently directs the development of Pacific Bamboo Resources, an institute involving international collaborators and Antioch University Seattle students focusing on innovations within emerging bamboo economies that advance carbon ethics and climate recovery, ecological restoration and improved quality of livelihood. Website: “www.pacificbamboo.com”

Three recent publications: Scherch, J. (2008). Poverty Alleviation and Urban/Rural Reciprocities: Designing, Learning, Collaborating for Eco-City Dhaka, Bangladesh. Paper accepted for EcoCity World Summit 2008, San Francisco, CA, April. * Scherch, J. (2006). From Rhizome to Renaissance: Engaging Integral Bamboo Systems for Sustainable Development. International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, 2(4). Paper presented at Annual Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, January, 2006. * Scherch, J., Fraser, T., Lee Bradley, A. & Nolt, J. (2005). “Models of Sustainability.” In John Nolt’s (Ed.) A Land Imperiled: The Declining Ecological Health of Southern Appalachia. Knoxville University of Tennessee Press. ISBN: 1-572-33326-X.


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