International Poplar Commission
Status in member countries
The International Poplar Commission carries out a survey of the status of the Salicaceae in IPC member countries before each of its sessions. The following report on the state of the poplars and willows is drawn from the summary of the latest survey, carried out in 2000 for the twenty-first session of IPC held in Portland, USA. This is not a global report, since Russia, with large areas of poplars and willows, is not a member of IPC, but it may account for three quarters of the resource. The full report is included in the section session documents. It was derived from returns from the national poplar commissions of 24 of the 37 member countries with additional information added on two other member countries obtained from other sources. The national reports contain a great deal more information than can be included in this synthesis - on experiments being undertaken, on the details of national policies and regulations, or on publications produced by national authors during the period, for example.
China: degraded sands prior to rehabilitation (Photo: FAO)It is impossible to estimate the area of poplars and willows in the world - even without figures for Russia - since they occur naturally, often in mixture with other species, as well as in plantations. Inventory data of areas of poplars were available for most countries which reported, some with information about areas of natural occurrence. Canada reported the largest natural area of poplars: approximately 17.8million ha of mixed-stands, where poplar was the main component; the United States reported 8.75million ha of aspen and cottonwood plus millions of hectares growing outside the surveyed area of forest. In China, natural stands, represented by 53 species, were estimated to be about 3million ha (1996 1.34million ha). China also reported 6million ha of poplar plantations.
China: sands rehabilitated with poplar (Photo: FAO)
France reported (1998) 253 700 ha of poplar plantations (in 1993, 245 000 ha); Hungary 156 700 ha (almost the same as in 1996), of which 47 000 ha were native stands and 109 300 ha were hybrid stands; Turkey approximately 145 000 ha (1996 157 000 ha); Italy 118 825 ha (of which 70 000 ha were situated in the Northern Italian plains); Romania 113 556 ha (native poplars: 60 732 ha and cottonwood: 52 824 ha); Spain 102 830 ha (1995); Belgium 40 000 ha; India approximately 40 000 ha (26 400 ha reported in 1996); the United States 30 000ha (20 000 ha in 1996); Bulgaria 25 645 ha; Croatia 19 535 ha (of which 5 366 ha were natural stands); Chile 15 000 ha , of which 7000-8000 are plantations, the rest rows. Argentina carried out a national forest plantation inventory in 1998 and reported 74 000 ha of plantations of the Salicaceae. No clear picture emerges of trends in the area of poplars, since figures have often been incomplete or unreliable in the past. Readers may wish to put these figures, and those on willows (below) in the context of national forestry programmes or the FAO Forest Resources Assessment. In the United Kingdom a new national inventory was carried out but data were not yet available.
Information on standing volume of poplars was given by some countries. Canada: 3 mil 700 millones m3 in the mixed-stands, of which mil 600 millones m3 were in "poplar stands", where Populus sp were the main component and 2 mil 100 millones m3 were in "non-poplar stands", where species other than Populus formed most of the stands; the United States: 707 millones m3; France: 23. 8 millones m3 (in 1993 27.3 millones m3); Romania: 14.2 millones m3 (7.56 millones m3 of which were natural stands); Italy: 4 millones m3; Belgium: the total standing in pure block plantation for Walloon Region was estimated as 1.84 millones m3; Croatia: 2.3 millones m3 (742 824 m3 of which were natural stands); Bulgaria: 1.1 millones m3 (1999); Chile: 900 000 m3. Argentina (1998) reported a standing volume of the Salicacea of 3.2 millones m3.
Exports and imports of poplar wood had relevance mainly in Europe. The countries that imported the most poplar wood were: Italy: 653 300 m3 of roundwood (in 1996: 721 934 m3), mainly from France (50%) and Hungary (30%); Belgium: 155 649 m3 (in 1996: 155 649 m3 ); France: in 1999, 183 037 tonnes (1996: 136 720 tonnes); Finland: 150 000 - 200 000 m3/year, mainly from the Baltic states and Russia; Croatia: in 1999, 15 660 tonnes (in 1996: 10 536 tonnes whereas in the 1996-1999 period 97 779 tonnes were imported, mainly pulpwood from Hungary).
The main exporting countries were as follows. Belgium: in 1998, 233 336 m3 (in 1996: 208 682 m3) mainly to France, Italy, the Netherlands, Morocco and Egypt. France: in 1999, 328 811 tonnes, mainly to Italy (in 1996: 332 507 tonnes). Croatia: in 1999 36 770 tonnes, mainly logs to Italy (in 1996: 12 314 tonnes). Romania: more than 250 000 m3/year of logs and timber (average for period 1996-1999). Spain: in 1999, 13 065 tonnes only to France (1996: 10 271 tonnes). Several of these countries import and re-export poplar wood, either as roundwood or in semi-processed form. It appears that trade in poplar wood is of relatively little importance, even in Europe.
Regarding willows, few countries reported inventory data. Romania reported 43 030 ha , of which 18 557 ha were native stands. Croatia reported 10 778 ha , of which 10 778 ha were natural stands. Romania reported 3.8 millones m3 (of which 1.15 millones m3 were in natural stands) of willow standing volume; and Croatia reported 1.05 millones m3 (1.05 millones m3 in natural stands). Although limited information was supplied on the cultivation and use of willows, several countries showed a great interest in willows, mainly for bioenergy and new industrial uses (e.g. Chile reported the export of canework furniture made from Salix viminalis).