Anatoly P. Tsarev is at Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia, Russian Federation.
Available statistics indicate that the Russian Federation has among the world’s largest areas of natural stands of Salicaceae.
The Russian Federation has the world’s largest area of natural willow stands (Salix spp.) and the second largest area of natural poplar stands (Populus spp.), after Canada (Table 1). Natural poplar and willow ecosystems are important for environmental protection and as a source of wood and other materials (Table 2). The main products, in order of economic importance, are matches; packaging (pallets, boxes, crates); wickerwork; tannin; pulp, paper and cardboard; reconstituted wood panels; solid wood furniture; fuelwood and biomass for energy; and plywood.
The only one of these species for which official statistics on area and stock are available is aspen (Populus tremula); the area of natural stands is 20.6 million hectares and the stock of wood is 3.1 billion cubic metres. Other natural poplars (P. suaveolens, P. alba, P. nigra, P. laurifolia, P. maximowiczii and others) have an area of about 962 700 ha with stock of 143.39 million cubic metres. Natural stands of willows (all forms, including shrubs) grow on 2.9 million hectares; of these, 1.1 million hectares are tree forms (S. alba, S. fragilis, S. caprea), with a stock of 86.5 million cubic metres (unpublished State assessment data, 2003). The most widespread willow species in the country are shown in Table 3.
Although the Russian Federation possesses a huge area of forests (733.15 million hectares of stocked forest land, with a stock of wood of 76 060 million cubic metres, excluding forest areas not under the administration of the Ministry of Natural Resources [Forest Fund of Russia, 2003]), the southern regions of the country have some deficit in wood supply. This is being addressed in part by the cultivation of fast-growing species of poplars and willows (Table 4).
Systematic research on genetics and breeding of willows and poplars has been carried out in the Russian Federation for the past 70 years. Willows have successfully been bred for straightness of trunk and productivity (for treelike willows); increased biomass per unit area; quality of boughs for wickerwork (length, flexibility, viscosity, etc.); content and quality of tannin; decorative properties; and frost resistance. Research on poplars has addressed growth, wood stock and biomass yield and their use in shelterbelts, water and soil protection and other environmental enhancement purposes, including ornamental uses. Poplars have been selected and bred for disease and frost resistance, fast growth and decorative pyramidal form.
Chumakov, V.V. 1991. The creation of high-tannin willow plantations – survey information, Issue 2. Moscow, Russian Federation, Research Institute of Forest Resources of USSR Forest State Committee. (In Russian).
Forest Fund of Russia. 2003. State registration of the Forest Fund to 1 January 2003. Moscow, State Forest Service. (In Russian).
Morozov, I.R. 1966. Willows of the USSR and their cultivation. Moscow, Forest Industry. (In Russian).
Nazarov, M. 1936. Genus 356 – Salix. In Flora of the USSR, Vol. 5, p. 24–214. Moscow-Leningrad, Izdatel ‘stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR. (In Russian).
Skvortsov, A.K. 1968. Willows of the USSR – a systematic review. Moscow, Science. (In Russian).