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Area and inventory data

The total area of poplar amounts to 15.000 ha, of which between 7 000 and 8 000 ha are plantations, the rest being tree rows. The standing volume of poplar is about 900.000 m3.

The area of willow plantations was estimated in 1997 as 235 ha; Salix viminalis is the main species cultivated in the country, for fiber production.

Economic data

No quantification of the total poplar wood production per year is available, but is estimated around 143 000 m3 (0.67% of the total national production). There is a positive trend of the exported volume of poplar products, mainly manufacturated goods (chopsticks, ice-cream spoons, mouldings). The manufacture of mimbre (Salix viminalis) as canework furniture has become an important export.

Policy and legislation

Since 1995 an intensive promotion policy to encourage poplar plantations has been carried out by the government; the research institutions took an active role in this process. During the last year, poplars were included as favoured species in the "table of costs" published by the State Forest Service, qualifying for financial support to forest plantations. The National Report advises that, although this is an important advance for populiculture in Chile, it is necessary to review the costs with the Ministry of Finance.

Technical data

Important efforts are been made to develop poplar cultivation using foreign clones, which were introduced recently. Through two official projects, more than 20 high-yield clones (Aigeiros and Tacamahaca sections), were introduced to Chile from Sweden, Argentina and France. The genotypes will be evaluated in different locations. A major private company is working on the study of another 116 clones (mainly originating from Italy). Studies on the wood characteristics of three poplar clones were made.

Research activities to identify genetic variability of willows in Chile were carried out, while new clones were introduced from Sweden between 1996 and 1997.

In 1997, for the first time, the sanitary situation of the poplar plantations was evaluated; significant pest or disease problems were not observed. Strong controls in clone exchange methodology are applied.

General data

Since 1995 the National Poplar Commission has been reactivated with the participation of more than 20 official and private organizations. Recently, a review of the aims and general lines of action was developed and a proposal for a new formulation was presented in November 1999.

A program of medium and short term actions was prepared. It plans to make projects financed by open competitive bids, the main subject being research, production, economy and markets.

Different activities of the Commission, such as seminars, technical tours and a newsletter are reported. The NPC has established relations with other countries such as Argentina, Hungary and France.

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