bamboo treehouse

An informal blog version of my formal website. The intention is to add news and some insight into my ongoing predilection for bamboo and the hooch. With these raw materials and conceptual abode, I have evolved a paradigm for living lightly on this Earth. It is quite the adventure, so, why not share.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

a carbon neutral treehouse vacation



I recently read a post about Richard Branson's plan to build a carbon neutral vacation resort on an island in the Caribbean. Another discovery was a carbon credit calculator produced by Linda Garland, president of the Environmental Bamboo Foundation, based in Paia, Maui, and East Bali: http://bamboocentral.org/shareinrepair/steps.htm . The concept is to offset your carbon footprint incurred by your lifestyle by donating to the establishment of a bamboo plantation, and thereby sequester an equal amount of carbon. With your donation, your carbon footprint becomes zero.
Bamboo grows at a phenomenal rate, and is therefore a very efficient and effective method of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, and counteracting the carbon production our lifestyle incurs. It has been estimated that bamboo sequesters carbon at a rate of 62 tons/hectare/year, as compared to 15 tons/hectare/year for a tree forest. This translates to 25 tons/acre/year and 6 tons/acre/year respectively.
Our Tropical Treehouse property in Rincon', Puerto Rico, has been sequestering carbon, retaining moisture, and preventing erosion since our stewardship of the property began in 1992. Through a concerted effort of rehabiltation of the land with a permaculture strategy, the land has become, not only a paradise of beautiful flora, but an effective carbon sink- way beyond our family's carbon footprint.
A historical perspective. The land, once a forest, was cleared and the rich, fertile land was used to grows sugar cane for the subsistence Puerto Rican farmers up until the early 1950's. A collapse of the sugar cane market led to a migration of many families to the states, and a re-defined utility of the land. It was used for cattle grazing. With an already degraded/eroded soil, the degradation continued. The owner/farmer kept the jungle in check with his machete', and lived to a ripe old age of 92, aided, in part, by a steady supply of rum,beer, and milk of magnesia (the bottles stashed at the base of the old mango trees testified to this lifestyle) Finally, the land went fallow, and became an impenetrable mass of vines and stunted naturally sprouted trees- royal palms, mango, ceiba, and wild sour orange..
That was when the land came into our custody in 1992. It took me 5 years to clear the vines, after my day job as a teacher and lab technician at the local university. Once freed, the trees reached for the sky. Today, those royal palms are tall and majestic. In our efforts to transform the land to a permaculture ideal, we planted over twenty species of bamboo, and hundreds of native Puerto Rican hardwoods. Today, what was once a neglected, stunted land of 20% forest, is a mature, double canopy forest covering close to 85% of the land.
The original intention of planting a bamboo forest was to provide a building material for my architectural projects. To grow your own house has multiple ecological advantages, in addition of maintaining the carbon sequestration of bamboo- by using it.
Today, the Tropical Treehouse is a truly green enterprise. The main house employs solar hot water, rain water collection, and is furnished with bamboo furniture from bamboo grown on the land. The hooch treehouses are self sufficient- 12 volt solar photo-voltaic electricity, solar hot water, and structure built from bamboo that was planted, grown, and harvested on the very land that they stand.
With a bamboo forest covering 3 acres, and the rest of the property in mature forest, a conservative estimate of our carbon sequestration is well over 100 tons/year- far more than the carbon footprint of our family. Consequently, like Richard Branson, we can offer a totally carbon neutral vacation. Airline flight has a relatively heavy carbon footprint, costing .16 tons of carbon/1000 miles travelled. Or, an average of .32 tons for a round trip to Puerto Rico from the states. With our large surplus of carbon sequestration capability, we can offer a carbon offset for airline travel of all our guests, as well as any carbon footprint incurred from driving your rental car.
Our bamboo forest biomass is growing at a rate of 20% per year, thus increasing our rate of carbon sequestration. As a guest in our slice of paradise, you will be contributing to this cause, and will help insure our small contribution in ameliorating the effects of global warming, and saving planet Earth.

4 Comments:

At 10:08 PM, Blogger sue said...

thanks!
learned so much
enjoyed all the blog posts
and pictures
also like the official site
nice caruso quote over there
some people live their visons
kudos

 
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At 11:57 AM, Blogger David said...

Wakeboarding, scuba diving, or fly fishing sound appealing to you? Then go and check out Branson resort.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger network said...

The Associated Press calls Branson one of the top family vacation destinations in the country and for good reason. Check out Branson vacation for you lodging needs.

 

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