From left: Arief Rabik, Amanda Jackes, Woodfordia general manager; Gavin Kele of Arris Water and architect Nici Long of Cave Urban look over plans for the bamboo project.
From left: Arief Rabik, Amanda Jackes, Woodfordia general manager; Gavin Kele of Arris Water and architect Nici Long of Cave Urban look over plans for the bamboo project.

Woodford example could save cane land

A BAMBOO expert who is empowering 1000 Indonesian villages to become primary producer/processors of the timber believes the Sunshine Coast's dormant cane lands offer a similar opportunity for economic development.

Environmental scientist Arief Rabik, a director of the Indonesian-based International Bamboo Foundation, is encouraging the villages to each grow 2000ha of bamboo and supplying them with the basic equipment to produce a semi-processed product.

Mr Rabik was on the Sunshine Coast to sign a three-way partnership with Woodfordia and Cave Urban to grow a 2ha experimental bamboo forest as an element of a world-first water preservation facility.

The bamboo will grow fertilised by recycled Woodford Folk Festival food scraps irrigated by organic disinfected waste water from Woodfordia's cutting edge sewage treatment plant.

Mr Rabik described the Coast's dormant cane land as "absolutely suitable" for bamboo.

"Climate is not such a problem," he said.

Too much water and poor soil conditions would slow the bamboos' prolific growth but that situation would improve over time as the bamboo effectively healed damaged soil.

In good soil a 30 metre canopy could emerge on the flood plain within a decade.

The treated product would support the laminate, paper and pulp and garment and textile industries.

Mr Rabik preserves bamboo for commercial use by injecting hot smoke at a round 120 degrees into a pressurised smoker containing the timber immersed in water for six hours.

The process impregnates the bamboo with tar compounds which act as a pesticide and fungicide.

A by-product of the bamboo treatment is biochar which is a soil ameliorant and carbon sink capable of boosting the soil's productivity.

The partnership between Woodfordia, Cave Urban - a Sydney bamboo design collective - and the International Bamboo Foundation has been in discussion for the past 12 months.

Mr Rabik will join the 2016 Woodford Folk Festival as part of its Speakers' Program when the operation's initial stages will be revealed.

Around 50 clumps of bamboo have already been planted and it is expected that the preservation facility will be launched on December 29 as part of Arief's presentation.

The trial planting is a research partnership between Ben Kele of Arris Water and Central Queensland University, with the aim of irrigating bamboo forests with effluent water.

Architect Nici Long of Cave Urban said to would only be a few years before bamboo would have an international trading price.

"The more nations involved in its production, the more profitable it will be for everyone," she said.

Woodfordia has since 2012, in partnership with Cave Urban, created a number of large-scale sculptures using bamboo.

The current sculpture is a two-story tree house created under the leadership of Taiwanese master bamboo artist, Wang Wen Chih as a part of a teaching master class leading into the Planting Festival.

Festival director Bill Hauritz said the project started as a way to supply incredibly cheap raw materials for sculptures, portable buildings, shade, fencing and many other products.

"We are delighted to be applying it to our site use for altruistic purpose, and to continue the innovative traditions of Woodfordia," he said.


A mature bamboo clump can absorb 5000 litres of water and hold onto it for six-eight months, gradually giving water back to top soil in the dry periods.

Ideal for areas of radical wet and dry periods.

One hectare of bamboo can absorb 50 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The 1000 Bamboo Villages Program will ultimately absorb 100 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The secret to bamboo's remarkable function is the speed of its metabolism in absorbing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

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