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Synthesis of National Reports on Activities related to Poplar and Willow Areas, Production, Consumption and the Functioning of National Poplar Commissions


National reports were received from the National Poplar Commissions of 24 of the 37 member countries (in 1996: 25 reports from 35 member countries). Information was added on two other member countries obtained from other sources. These 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. Readers wanting more information may obtain copies of these reports (some of which are available in electronic form) from the Secretary, International Poplar Commission, Forest Resources Division, Forestry Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00100, Italy, or e-mail to [email protected]

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 17.8 million ha of mixed-stands, where poplar was the main component; the USA reported 8.75 million 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 3 million ha (1996 1.34 million ha). China reported 6 million ha of poplar plantations. 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 47 400 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); USA 30 000 ha (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 7 000-8 000 are plantations, the rest rows.

In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and Argentina, new national inventories were carried out but data were not yet available.

Information on standing volume was given by some countries. Canada: 3.7 billion m³ in the mixed-stands, of which 1.6 billion m³ were in "poplar stands", where Populus sp were the main component and 2.1 billion m³ were in "non poplar stands", where species other than Populus formed most of the stands; USA 707 million m³; France: 23.8 million m³ (in 1993 27.3 million m³); Romania: 14.2 million m³ (7.56 million m³ of which were natural stands); Italy: 4 million m³; Belgium: the total standing in pure block plantation for Walloon Region was estimated as 1.84 million m³; Croatia: 2.3 million m³ (742 824 m³ of which were natural stands); Bulgaria: 1.1 million m³ (1999); Chile 900 000 m³.

Exports and imports of poplar wood had relevance mainly in Europe. The countries that had most imports 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: 89 404 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 ´96-´99 period 97 779 tonnes were imported, mainly pulpwood from Hungary).

The main exporting countries were: 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) and Spain: in 1999, 13 065 tonnes only to France (1996: 10 271 ton). Several of these countries import and re-export poplar wood, either as roundwood or in semi-processed form.

Regarding willows, few countries reported inventory data. Romania: 43 030 ha, of which 18 557 were native stands; Croatia: 10 778 ha, of which 6 634 ha were natural stands. Romania reported 3,8 million m³ (of which 1.15 million m³ were in natural stands) of willow standing volume; and Croatia reported 1.05 million m³ (742 824 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 bio-energy and new industrial uses (e.g. Chile reported the export of canework furniture made from Salix viminalis). The need to protect willow genetic resources by in-situ and ex- situ means, was reported by various countries.

Environmental issues and public concern strongly affected policies and practices in both poplar and willow culture in many countries in North america and Europe.

Some changes in national policies and legislation, mainly concerning new regulations for forest reproductive material, the registration of new clones, natural forest protective projects, financial incentives and measures to preserve the quality of the environment were reported. The application and development of EC Regulation 2080/92 was substituted by EC Regulation 1257/99 that provided for approximately the same subsidies; poplar cultivation will therefore be financially supported in the European Union until 2006.

In East Europe the forestry sector, as with other economic activities, has continued to adapt to free market conditions. Some countries, as Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, regulated the restitution of agricultural and forest lands to their former owners.

Research in various topics was carried out by most countries. In general, interest in genetic engineering and marker-aided selection programmes increased. Poplar genetic maps were available or in an advanced stage of development in some countries.

Most European countries reported their participation in the EUFORGEN Programme for the conservation of native stands of Populus nigra, with valuable progress made. A database with information regarding the origin and the conservation of P. nigra clones included in the ex-situ collections found in various European countries is being prepared; 14 countries have already supplied information for the creation of such a database and 2 800 clones have been registered.

Interest in the use of poplar and willow for energy was strongly maintained in countries such as Sweden (mainly willows), Yugoslavia, Croatia and the United Kingdom (where an energy crop scheme for poplar and willow planting has been carried out).

Although the National Poplar Commissions of Austria and the Netherlands are no longer functioning, nevertheless several National Commissions carried out activities such as: meetings, technical presentations, preparation of web sites, study tours, etc. Canada, which continued to be one of the most active, has actively developed the potential of electronic communication and dissemination of information. On occasions, National Commissions have had important roles in official discussions of strategies for poplar and willow cultivation. In some cases, it was reported - or was deduced - that there was the need to review the main aims and the organisational structures in order to improve their effectiveness. In general, good communication and co-operation in joint activities related to the exchange of information and materials were observed, particulary between countries of the same geographical region.

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