Bamboo is a fast-growing grass. There are more than 1500 species of bamboo worldwide. Giant bamboo grows in (sub)tropical regions and can reach a height of 15 to 30 metres, with a stem circumference of 35 cm or more, growing at a rate of 30 to 50 cm per day.
Bamboo grows mainly in China. Phyllostachys pubescens (otherwise known as MOSO bamboo) has a fine texture and is used to make high-grade parquet flooring. The plant grows in extensive primeval forests as well as on plantations managed by farmers. Approximately one third of the bamboo stems can be felled on an annual basis without reducing the size of the forest.
Pandas (both the giant panda and its smaller relative the red panda) live in the mountains in central China. Relying on bamboo as a primary food source, the panda moves from place to place stripping the lower leaves and shoots off the bamboo stems. The high MOSO bamboo has no leaf growth on the first 5 metres of the stem and is not a source of food for the panda.
Bamboo is the fastest-growing natural material in the world and as such it can help to prevent deforestation. Among other things, bamboo can be used to prevent erosion, to protect water collection areas, to restore the soil and to provide natural overgrowth. Most importantly, it can be used instead of wood.
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