Bamboo Society of Southern Africa

Our Why

It is well demonstrated that bamboo is one of Planet Earth’s most perfectly nature engineered and sustainable resource materials.

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For millennia, bamboo has been used for everything from food to bridge building.

Whether you want to be cultivating bamboo for CO² offset, or use bamboo for any one of the hundreds of different existing applications ranging from manufacture of bamboo furniture, bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo paper, bamboo fabric etc, this giant grass species is the logical environmentally conscious material of choice for the future.

Bamboo is even proving able to process heavy metals from the soil (phytoremediation) and regenerate the barren earth when used with permaculture principles.

Bamboo in Southern Africa

Did you know that bamboo is actually botanically classified as giant grass, and not a member of any tree species?

Although not native to our country, bamboo has been accepted as a naturalized species since its introduction into South Africa during the 1600s. Among others , here in Southern Africa, certain bamboo species also grow well, mostly around Kzn, Eastern Cape and also some other parts of SA, like:

But isn’t bamboo an invasive species, you may be wondering? Truth of the matter is, that all +- 1400 species of bamboo worldwide is classified into one of two types, being either the “clumping” (sympodial) type, or the “running” (monopodial) type. Quite simply: Clumpers stay put, while Running bamboo slowly creeps along like grass until they reach a barrier.

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Our Mission

In our founding document, also called a Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) we list our aims in support of promoting the use and cultivation of bamboo as a sustainable eco product and resource in Southern Africa, by inter alia:

  1. Identifying existing available bamboo resources in Southern Africa and candidate locations for development of bamboo treatment facilities and nurseries,
  2. Researching, developing and promoting: 
    • Best practices for non-invasive clumping bamboo propagation, cultivation, harvesting, and curing. 
    • Low environmental impact, cost-effective bamboo treatment processes,
    • Uses of bamboo in construction, and 
    • other viable uses for bamboo.
  3. Promoting, marketing and improving public awareness and perception of bamboo, reversing negative perceptions;
  4. Assembling and making available information and research on the identification, propagation, uses, cultural background and appreciation of bamboos. Maintaining a reference library and publishing related information. 
  5. Promoting bamboo as a social upliftment tool, setting up and running bamboo-based adult educational facilities and social development projects in rural and urban communities.
  6. Planting and maintaining bamboo gardens to display the beauty of mature plants and to selectively provide plant material for research in the taxonomy, propagation and cultivation of a large variety of species as possible;
  7. Preserving and increasing the number of bamboo species available in, and being cultivated in Southern Africa, and promoting the use of desirable species by developing stocks of species for use by members, distribution to botanical gardens and introduction to the general public.
  8. Generating value content which contributes to Continuous Professional Development across different industries and professions as determined by the board from time to time,
  9. Setting up Regional Chapters within the Society.

What We Do

The Bamboo Society of Southern Africa (BambuSSA) collect bamboo data through volunteers, our members, the general public, and also commission our own R&D on all aspects of bamboo in the Southern African region.
For this, we need and welcome Your input and help.

Our research and development includes determining:

  1. Which bamboo species grow Where in Southern Africa,
  2. Which non-running bamboo types are optimal for our local conditions,
  3. When, Where and How to cultivate those bamboo species,
  4. Optimum bamboo harvest protocols, and
  5. Environmentally safe bamboo treatment protocols for various uses.
  6. Develop standards for bamboo construction and craft

Our bamboo research projects practically demonstrate bamboo’s many benefits and uses to local communities, as well as showcasing the positive long term impact of local bamboo on the environment.

Data collected will be used to provide best practice guidelines to members and the public for environmentally responsible bamboo use and management. [for example: bamboo latrines in identified communities and testing the impact and effectiveness as the community uses the services.]
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