Working Party on Production Systems

Formerly the Working Party on Biomass Production Systems

Innovative machineries for harvesting and chipping (Photo: FAO)


Officers of the Working Party are:

Report from 22nd Session

During the 22nd session of the IPC, the Working Party held four technical meetings during which 13 scientific/technical papers were presented and a wide range of posters on production systems were displayed and discussed at the poster sessions.

The Working Party scope included the technical, social, environmental and economic/ecological dimensions of production systems, whether to provide biomass or other products or services to society.

Achievements from 2000-2004 included:

  • Divided the Production Systems and Environmental Applications Working Party into the Production Systems and the Environmental Applications Working Parties (see below);
  • Planned and organized the 3rd International Poplar Symposium, Uppsala, Sweden, 26-29 August 2002; and
  • Direct inputs to the IUFRO Working Groups and IEA Bioenergy Task Groups 30 (Short Rotation Crops for Bioenergy Systems) and 31 (Biomass Production for Energy from Sustainable Forestry).

The agreed programme of work 2005-2008 included:

  • Update and maintain the Working Party web portal on the IPC website, including list of experts, question forum, meetings schedule and links to associated sites;
  • Link with Genetics, diseases and insects Working Parties on matters pertaining to production systems;
  • Document cases of sustainable management of production systems;
  • Promote Governments and National Poplar Commissions to address such Poplar and Willow issues as sustainable cropping systems, taxation and public education/awareness; and
  • Assist in planning and organizing the 4th International Poplar Symposium, Nanjing, China, in June 2006.

The Working Party on Poplar and Willow Production Systems made the following recommendations:

  • Enlist FAO, through IPC, to mobilize National Poplar Commissions/Councils in member countries to fulfil their mandates more actively;
  • Encourage National Poplar Commissions to conduct biennial meetings within member countries to facilitate identification of country specific issues, needs and transfer of knowledge and technology; and
  • Recognize the role of Poplars and Willows in multi-disciplinary, inter-sectoral production systems.

Reports from prior Sessions

This group, set up at the sixteenth session in 1980, aims to promote coordination among specialists concerned with biomass production from poplars and willows. As this was a totally novel kind of cultivation, so far as techniques of cultivation, choice of cultivars and harvesting techniques were concerned, it was decided to assign these problems to a new group rather than splitting the study among the existing working parties. The specialized new group has thus been in a better position to maintain relations with institutions pursuing similar objectives, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and research units of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO).

Correct biomass harvesting practices (Image: Raffaele Spinelli, FAO WP IPC/8)The scope of the working party was discussed in 1992 and most recently in 2000. There was general consensus that the scope should continue to stress that production systems not only produce biomass, but also provide a large number of environmental services. The scope should continue to encompass social, technical, economic and ecological aspects of production systems, whether designed to provide biomass or other products and services to society. In this connection it was noted that several papers were discussed by this group on phytoremediation in the meeting of 2000, and it was even proposed that this developing field merited a new working party devoted to it.

Correct biomass harvesting practices (Image: Raffaele Spinelli, FAO WP IPC/8)The first formal meeting of the new group was held on the occasion of the XVII IUFRO World Congress in Japan in September 1981. Since then, biomass production in dense, short-rotation plantations of poplars and willows (including agroforestry systems with complete utilization of the combined biomass), regenerated by coppicing, has been introduced on an experimental scale in Belgium, Canada, France, Sweden and USA. Small-scale trials have been conducted in Austria, China, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

It was recommended in 1996 that a report be prepared on the modelling of production systems in the Salicaceae. The importance of poplars and willows to social forestry, which should be regarded as multipurpose species, was recognized and member countries were encouraged to investigate the opportunities for technical assistance to support such programmes. It was further recommended that activities of the working party should include studies of the specific requirements for the growth of poplars and willows in the more northerly regions, including Scandinavia and the northern parts of China and North America.

Members submitted the following recommendations to the plenary session of the twenty-first session, which were adopted:

  • to proceed with a general call for papers and a general scientific committee, in the same way as has been done for the current session;
  • to proceed with a mixture of technical working party sessions and joint sessions of working parties, also as has been done during the current session;
  • to consider a change in the name of the working party, adding the words 'and environmental applications' to production systems;
  • to stimulate interaction between experts in all aspects of willow and poplar cultivation.
last updated:  Friday, August 1, 2014