Old-growth deforestation is widely recognized as one of the most urgent environmental concerns currently facing the planet. The steady, centuries-long practice of culling large trees from tropic equatorial habitats has produced a noticeable deficit in these areas, with some countries retaining less than 20% of their original amount of forest covering.
This has had a devastating effect on native wildlife, and has dramatically reduced the global environment’s natural ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Many researchers warn that tropical deforestation is approaching the point of no return, as the trees that hail from these ecosystems grow at a notoriously slow rate and often take more than hundreds of years to reach maturity. Unless serious efforts are undertaken to reduce the rate of tropical wood consumption, it may soon be too late to restore the damage done.
The problems is that tropical hardwoods are used in thousands of diverse manufacturing practices. Because the wood derived from slow-growing tropical trees is tough, dense, and beautiful, it is prized for making everything from guitars to furniture. One of its most important uses is in the construction of buildings, for which it has long been considered all but vital for making strong and durable beams.
While it has been difficult to find a serious contender for replacing tropical hardwood in building construction, there may be a solution in sight. Mammoet reports that it has created a composite bamboo beam that can go toe-to-toe with tropical hardwood.
The bamboo beams are created from bamboo fibers that are coated in resin and then compressed and heated into a solid block. The result is a strong and resilient material that can be produced in an ecologically responsible manner. Bamboo beams are currently still in their trial phase, but Mammoet plans to scale up usage by the end of the year.