One of the major reasons of deforestation in Nepal is cutting down tress for wood for construction of buildings. Not only in the urban areas but also in the rural area, where wood availability is abundant, within the vicinity of community forestry, the overuse of wood creates pressure to degrade forest land.
The massive or unnecessary use of wood for constructing even a small building can easily be replaced by earth-filled bags. By using earth-filled bags we can simply make walls and other structures which are stronger, cost effective and beautiful as compared to other construction materials. The haphazard cutting of trees and overuse of wood also cause global warming and climate change. As trees helps to reduce carbon release, earthbag building helps to reduce the use of wood for construction. The dirt under your feet can be used for excellent building materials.
Typical houses in Nepal use 200 cubic feet of wood. The same amount of wood can build 20 houses if walls are made with earthbags. 10 cubic feet of wood is enough for one house to make doors and windows. This is how earthbag building can preserve forests and minimize the high use of cement, brick, iron and steel in building conventional house, the main cause of climate change.
Narayan Adhikari, Rearl Ghar, Nepal
2 thoughts on “Earthbag Building Preserves Forests in Nepal”
I completely agree with you about the use of earthbags helping to keep from depleting forest reserves, especially in areas such as Nepal that have limited wood to begin with.
You should be aware, though, that in many of these places the single biggest reason for deforestation is the gathering of firewood, since many people there still cook on the traditional three stone fire. That also explains why many people develop respiratory ailments from being in the fire smoke so much–especially among women and children.
To complement the earthbag buildings, I think you might be interested in looking at the many efforts going on worldwide to produce extremely efficient cook stoves that use a fraction of the wood and which are much healthier for the people as well. There is an active community which shares the STOVES mail list hosted by repp.org. The people on this list develop stoves with a strong emphasis on affordability so they can be disseminated widely.
In many parts of the world, too, a large percentage of a family budget goes for firewood–either in purchasing it in urban environments or in spending much too much of the day in gathering it from forests increasingly denuded.
It’s obviously wonderful if folks can build a comfortable and healthful house with earthbags; when combined with a low cost and highly efficient cook stove, I think another major piece of the puzzle is in place.
Thank you Narayan for your report on earthbag building in Nepal. That’s pretty amazing how you can build houses with 1/20th the amount of wood. Please keep us posted on your projects. Seems to me this will lead to significant savings and so earthbag could become popular there.