Bamboo is a plant that often is misunderstood or unfairly marginalized, and gets a "bad rap" as part of urban plant myths. It is true that the running varieties of bamboo can be aggressive but there is no reason to fear the entire bamboo family and deem them as invasive. Lacking the ability to annually produce and spread viable seed (where incidents of flowering and seed production may occur decades apart, and even then the seeds are short-lived), bamboos do not qualify as invasive species like that of English Ivy, Kudzu, or Scotch Broom in the USA.
Indeed, as petroleum is regarded for its myriad valuable contributions to modern living, and its responsible sourcing and usage is required to avoid undesirable consequences, so too for bamboo. What is imperative is an understanding of bamboo and the need for an enduring relationship between bamboo and us. Proper and easy to apply management regimes can avoid problems before they present and allow for bamboo's benefits to be gained.
All bamboo should be thoughtfully considered and planted only when owners can be responsible for monitoring the expected behaviors of the plant. Most “nuisance” experiences (including those that inaccurately refer to bamboo as being invasive) occur when owners are inattentive. And, so, while the running or clumping varieties grow as they should, owners can be surprised if not upset.
All of the undesirable results of bamboo mismanagement can be avoided with proper care and management. Adopting methods to routinely (and easily) monitor and control growth, enjoying the benefits of bamboo responsibly can be an effective and inexpensive management tactic.
The spreading root systems of bamboo can help to bind the soils and prevent soil erosion. Bamboo is more durable than many types of wood - no doubt the reason for the epithet: the wise man's timber. Bamboo is a beautiful plant that can add grace and style to interiors while being light and strong for the exteriors of a building. Bamboo is eaten, used, and traded by millions of people worldwide.
The existing and potential ways for bamboo to support sustainable community and economic development is only going one way: Up.