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2 Year Transformation With Bamboo

Inspirational showcase of what can be achieved in a record time of just 24 month. In Neotropical Climate, with depleted red clay soil. On a, topographic speaking, Tropical Mountain Rainforest. With Guadua angustifolia – bamboo.

Guadua is the endemic bamboo species of South America specifically: Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The area we transformed was historically a stark depleted cacao-ccn51 monoculture with very low cacao production which we first terra transformed into big terraces, for better access. And then started transplanting with Guadua seedlings, and tropical fruit trees, as well as selective not chopping down wild pioneer trees. Now obviously within the 2 years, the fruit trees are almost not visible yet, compared to the bamboo, but they will grow within the bamboo forest.

Video: Quick Walk Through The Guadua Forest

From our experience, it’s not clear for most people that transforming an area in such a short time frame is absolutely doable with bamboo. This can be inspiration for others to use bamboo for rapid transformation of tropical depleted soil.

MachuPichu Bottom – 24 Month!

Aerial drone photo left side: You can clearly see the terraced MachuPichu area (18th November 2018) which looks like giant steps. The lower area highlighted with the BLUE outlines is the specific area in this blog post. Landscape Aerial photo right side: You can clearly see the transformed MachuPichu area (14th December 2020) with look like giant steps. The lower area highlighted with the WHITE outlines is the specific area. Time difference between both photos is a little over 2 years.

This new transformation-article is focused on the lowest part of the terraces on MachuPichu and the 2 year change.

Keep in mind that even thought the article is about Guadua (bamboo) transformation, its not a Guadua monoculture. We have used Guadua and a few Giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper) near the access road and fence border with the neighbor. Also various other natural elements. All terraces have been reinforced with Vetiver grass as bioengineering element to control damage by extreme tropical rainfall such as erosion landslides. Additionally we transplanted perennial peanut (Arachis pintoi) to control overall loss of top soil. The vetiver grass also helps to enhance the soil activity, attracting microorganism with the deep root system and its strong fresh scent. Did you know that bamboo has relatively low water requirements and that its root system is an excellent watershed protector? Also you can think of bamboo as of a natural water tank and filter. Water cycle regulation. Every bamboo trunk will push the water to the tallest part of the trunk and back down within every 24 hours. This helps to regulate water flow in tropical climate. Interestingly the edge of this lowest part of the terraces where we first planted the guadua angustifolia “brava” with thorns to keep grow a natural fence.

Transformation Timeframe

  • 1st May 2018 – transplanted Guadua angustifolia brava alongside the fence with the neighbour
  • 18th November 2018 – Terracing was finalized
  • 11th April 2019 – Finally we started transplanting the Guadua
  • 4th August 2019 – photo with a Guadua plant of almost 90cm of height
  • 17th April 2020 (2 years after transplanting) Guadua plants 5 to 10 meter height

Planting Setup Of The Lower MachuPichu Area

The Terracing is quite a big area of about 2 Hecatreas. The lowest part is highlighted with the light-blue outlines on the left image. On the right image you can see about terraces or platforms. The top terrace is the main access road to the top of the MachuPichu Terraces. It connects the main house to the top of the terraces. The border of the main road has Vetiver grass and on strategic places giant bamboo which will act as natural tunnel and create shade and also lower the temperature. This is one of the many ecosystem regulatory services of Guadua.

The planting setup is the following. On the right side is the border with the neighbor, so we very first planted Guadua angustifolia “brava”, every 3 meters, in a line, which is the thorny guadua works great as natural fence. Overall you can see that from left to right 30% of the terraces have no bamboo this is to use this space for other purposes such as on the top a vegetable garden where we have Turmeric and some Papaya. Also the first three terraces have bamboo and the 4th has no bamboo there we planted a variety of tropical fruit trees.

Have you noticed how the Guadua plant seems to have geometrical shape? Compared to the giant bamboo there is much more geometrical perfections in the guadua plant. Every culm and leaf repeat the pattern.

Side View Terraces – 2 Years Difference

Almost same point of view where both photos where taken. Left photo is just after finalizing the terraces, you can still spot the yellow caterpillar machine (18th November 2018). The photo on the right side was taken the 20th November 2020. Between both photos are only 2 years time difference.

3rd Terrace – 23 Month Time Difference

Photo gallery: Left side image is the inicial transplanting (11th April 2019) of the Guadua angustifolia seedlings in the red clay soil. You can see that the Guadua seedlings where about 50-60 centimeters in height. On the right side photo is the Guadua forest view from the same point of view (11th January 2021). The difference is only 23 month, almost 2 years of time. The guadua ansgustifolia is not yet mature but has reached already hight of more than 8 meters.

Guadua Aerial View – 12 Month Difference

A almost similar photo-angle, the first photo was taken on the 30th April 2020 and it is clearly visible that there still is space between the guadua plants. Almost exactly 12 month later on the 17th of April 2021 the aerial photo shows a much denser Guadua forest growth advance.

Bamboo Seedlings Six Month After Transplantation

Status growth check the 4th August 2019. Left side is a young giant bamboo. On the right side the vertical photo is a Guadua anagustifolia which has grown to about 88 centimeters height. This is about 6 month after transplanting the bamboo seedlings. Most work we had to do is clean the area around the seedlings every 14 days so that the left over pasture grass would not overgrow the small bamboo seedlings. Once the bamboo seedlings are taller than 2 meters there is no more issue which the pasture grass, it only grows to a maximum size of 2 meters… 🙂

Final Aerial Drone Photo Of The Guadua Forest

Aerial photo taken from the main house of the 2 year old guadua forest taken the 17th of April 2021. What you see here has only 24 month of growth (since 11th April 2019). Two years of time is very little compared to all the biomass which you can see above soil on this picture. Don’t forget about all the extensive root system that the guadua grows below the soil which is mostly invisible.

Only 2 year old Guadua angustifolia forest still will grow much higher. Should reach 20 meters height until its mature and each culm will have a diameters of between 10 to 12 centimeters. This photo says more than 1000 words because its shows clearly how well the Guadua was able to grow on this steep hill with red clay.

Aerial photo taken from the other side of the main house the 11th November 2020. This aerial drone photo-angle helps to better perceive the terraces and the curve as well as the different height.

Last taken photo of the Guadua forest lowest part within the MachuPichu Terraces – 15th March 2021. This is from the inicial transplanting of the Guadua seedling (11th April 2019) exactly.