In 2005 Dovetail investigated environmental attributes of bamboo, a material that had several years earlier been firmly embraced by the green movement in the absence of any serious attempt to determine what impacts actually result from its production and use. At that time, our investigation revealed many environmental concerns associated with growing, harvesting, and converting bamboo to useful products. Problems reported throughout bamboo-producing regions included clearing of natural forests for establishment of bamboo plantations; creation of monoculture plantations; loss of biodiversity; substantial use of fertilizers and pesticides despite claims that bamboo crops required neither of these treatments; and unsustainable harvesting of natural stands of bamboo. We concluded our earlier report with the observation that the unquestioned green status accorded bamboo products needed serious re-evaluation and that, at a minimum, third-party certification should be required before awarding any kind of green status to bamboo products.
In this report we revisit bamboo products and environmental impacts associated with their production and use. We also provide updated information regarding availability of certified bamboo products and their performance. This report focuses on bamboo production in China, which has by far the largest and fastest growing bamboo industry.