Bamboo forest rises as a ‘formidable’ tourist attraction
UNLIKE ITS MORE famous sister municipalities in Pampanga, Lubao’s under-the-radar charm stems from its green attractions such as organic restaurants, farm resorts, and the beautiful six-hectare bamboo forest called the Lubao Bamboo Nature Park located in Brgy. Catalina, just beside the Gumain River.
A notable effort from the local government, the park is a symbol of how the province of Pampanga rose, and continues to rise from the tragedy of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the ‘90s. Finding ways to revive their natural reserves, and to address the growing soil erosion problem of the riverbanks, Lubao turned to bamboo planting as it was a tree that grew even in lahar-damaged areas.
“The bamboo forest was a project by Mayor Mylyn Pineda and the first trees were planted seven years ago. It took three years before the plants grew and rehabilitated by the Philippine Bamboo Foundation so the whole reserve can be transformed into a bamboo park,” said Laila Tulabot, Project Coordinator of the Lubao Bamboo Nature Park.
The advantages of the bamboo reserve are tremendous: The area is 35 percent more oxygen-rich, the hub sequesters 400 percent more carbon dioxide compared to areas around it, and helps control soil erosion of the surrounding dyke where the forest reserve is located.
To date, there are more than 325 fully-grown clumps of bamboo planted inside the six-hectare ecological park. Thousands more will be planted inside a 30-hectare village that the municipal government is developing.
Initial plans for the bamboo farm included some projects of the municipality and the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Pamcham), who were pushing for bamboo propagation and the use of engineered bamboo as an alternative to commercial lumber.
The bamboos were to be used for the unique line of environment-friendly products developed in the nearby materials recovery facility. Along with the Department of Trade and Industry, the Lubao local government conducted training for the engineering of bamboo slots for the creation of bamboo desks. The facility where these were being made was also able to make charcoal briquettes with a very high British Thermal Unit (BTU) and these were produced from shredded shavings and waste from the engineered bamboo furniture.
Some of the bamboo species are being grown in a nursery as engineered bamboo to be used by Pampanga’s flourishing furniture industry.
The best part is that it creates a truly beautiful area where families and friends can spend leisure time outdoors. The bamboo hub is perfect for picnics, biking, and is a great location for budding photography enthusiasts. In a stretch of grey lahar, the bamboo forest stands like an oasis.
There are also other attractions in the park such as the kayaking and boating area, which tourists can avail for a minimal fee. A fish spa can also be enjoyed while under bamboo trees, and there are special rocking chairs for senior guests.
“Bamboo is a great alternative to wood because it can grow abundantly and is easy to propagate,” said Tulabot. “It is indeed a great solution to the alarming deforestation happening in our forests.”