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United States of America

In the period from 1996 to 2000 there was little overall change in the area of native poplar and willow stands in the United States. There are 8.75 million ha of aspen and cottonwood forests (ca.707 million m³ of growing stock) plus millions of hectares of poplars and willows along riparian areas and wetlands that are not counted in the forest land survey.

Policy issues, however, have greatly changed the area of new poplar and willow plantations over the last 4 years. Nationally, there has been an increased amount of forest land set aside as reserves resulting in less native fiber and timber available for the rapidly growing US population during this prosperous period of economic growth. Thus, there are currently over 30 000 ha of hybrid poplar and cottonwood plantations in the US, primarily in Minnesota, Oregon and Washington, and the Southeast; 20 000 ha more are planned. About 10 000 ha of these are new in the last 4 years, also mainly in Minnesota, Oregon and Washington. Moreover, there has been an increased public awareness of environmental policy issues such as air and water pollution, global climate change, soil erosion, and carbon sequestration . This awareness has resulted, in hundreds of poplar and willow plantations for bioenergy, riparian buffers, wastewater treatment and reuse, phytoremediation, and carbon sequestration. The declining rural agricultural economy has also prompted farmers to see alternative crops that include short rotation woody crops (mostly poplars).Another change in recent years, has been the shift of industrial poplar plantations away from fiber production toward solid wood products due to lower world fiber market prices.

Also, over the last 4 years, poplar and willows have evolved as "model" research materials with a huge proliferation nationally of research and development programs, and cooperatives focusing on poplar and willows. The rapid growth, combining ability and ease of cloning of these species, have led to numerous, interdisciplinary molecular and physiological-based genetic programs in university and government institutions throughout the country. And there is a growing number of poplar growing associations and cooperatives particularly in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwestern states. Almost all these programs have internet-based information "outreach" that greatly facilitates the exchange of knowledge from researchers to growers via internet web pages (a list of US poplar and willow websites is available).

Lastly, there have been two major poplar books published(and being published) in the last 4 years in the US and Canada. They both greatly advance our knowledge of the science and culture of poplars. They are "Biology of Poplars", by R. F. Stettler et al, published by NRC Research Press, Ottawa, Canada in 1997, and "Poplar Culture in North America" by D. I. Dickmann et al to be published in early 2001 by NRC Research Press as well. In summary, poplar and willow cultivation and utilization has a "bright" present and future in the United States.

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