Working Party on Sustainable Livelihoods, Land-use, Products and Bioenergy

Deriving from the merging of: Working Party on Harvesting and Utilization of Poplar and Willow Wood & Working Party on Production Systems

Logging of poplar
(Photo: FAO)

Utilization of poplar
(Photo: FAO)

Officers of the Working Party are:

Proceedings of the '2nd Conference on engineered wood Products Based on Poplar/Willow Wood', León 2016  

Proceedings of the 'Conference on engineered wood Products Based on Poplar/Willow Wood', Nanjing 2008

Report from 47th Session, Executive Committee  

Report from 23rd Session

During the 23rd session, the Working Party held two technical meetings.

Constraints identified for the Working Party to be more effective, included: 

  • Current IPC member countries and National Poplar Commissions have limited knowledge and commitment to actions of the Working Party;
  • The voluntary nature of contributions can limit the time and inputs that Working Party members can make; and
  • The Poplar and Willow forest grower/supplier – wood industries processing – end user chains can be complex and vary markedly between member country contexts

The programme of action for the next four years included: 

  • The Working Party Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and the Technical Secretaries will be redefined to strengthen regional networking for China, Asia, Latin America, North America, Africa and Europe;
  • Better use be made of the IPC Working Party website to inform members of the action plans, needs and results; update the Harvesting and Utilization Section of the Global Directory of Poplar and Willow Experts;
  • Organize a dedicated workshop/conference on technical aspects of producing Poplar and Willow wood products, including topics on harvesting and utilization, to be organized back-to-back with other conferences (e.g. International Poplar Symposium, Italy, September 2010);
  • Preparation of a database of publications related to harvesting, utilization and forest products properties;
  • Examine current research and initiate new priority research collaborative projects to advance the utilization of Poplars and Willows (e.g. comparison of biomass for energy with other forest products options);
  • Set up a support systems for young scientists and students (PhD and post graduate) with grants for short-term scientific missions, conference participation, etc.;
  • Set up a database on Poplar and Willow harvesting, utilization industries and wood technology in IPC member countries and those countries with significant Poplar and Willow utilization, in a similar way as COST E44 of the European Union (Wood Processing Strategy);
  • Contribute to the Chapter on Poplar and Willow Properties and Utilization in the book “Poplars and Willows in the World”; and
  • Support, with Harvesting and Utilization inputs, to the proposal/justification for a new Working Party on Socio-economic Issues of Poplar and Willow Development (sustainable land-use and livelihoods, climate change mitigation and adaptation and bioenergy/biofuel).

Report from 22nd Session

During the 22nd of the IPC, the Working Party held one technical meeting during which three scientific/technical papers were presented and several harvesting and utilization posters displayed at the poster sessions.

The mandate of the Working Party was to facilitate the exchange of scientific and technical information about the harvesting and utilization of Poplars and Willows, particularly through collaborative research programmes.

During the period 2000-2004, the Working Party prepared information for the Harvesting and Utilization portal on the IPC website.

At the business meeting, it was agreed to change the name of the Working Party from "Logging and Utilization of Poplar and Willow Wood" to "Harvesting and Utilization of Poplar and Willow Wood".

The results of a SWOT analysis of the current situation included:

  • Well defined disciplines;
  • Diversity of products for development; and
  • Sound expertise/experience of Working Party members.
  • Lack of information and linkages to users of products;
  • Insufficient interactions with other Working Parties;
  • Ignorance of products in some important markets; and
  • Communications with the Working Party not keeping in pace with rapid changes in technology and markets.
  • The Harvesting and Utilization Working Party had direct links to the disciplines of the other Working Parties which could be strengthened; and
  • New innovative opportunities for harvesting and utilization of short rotation Poplars and Willows for a range of end uses and services.
  • Changes in national and international markets that cause fluctuations in supply, demand, specifications and price of forest products;
  • Environmental covenants on systems of production and harvesting; and
  • Lack of strong linkages between production related factors and utilization and markets.

The agreed programme of work 2005-2008 included:

  • Revitalize the Working Party, with particular focus on serving developing countries, by December 2004 - Responsibility of the Chair, three Vice Chairs, Technical Secretary and the Past-Chair;
  • Update the Working Party portal on the IPC website, by April 2005 - Responsibility of Joris Van Acker and the Secretary, IPC;
  • Embark on a membership and participant drive for the Working Party through National Poplar Commissions, by April 2005 - Responsibility for coordination, Joris Van Acker;
  • Coordinate the Utilization Chapter of the Poplar and Willow book by December 2005 - Responsibility John Balatinecz;
  • Liaise with other Working Parties to derive collaborative initiatives (e.g. breeding for desirable wood traits, or use of biotechnology to improve durability), by January 2006 - to be coordinated by Joris Van Acker and Patrick Mertens;
  • Conduct a scientific and technical conference on Poplar and Willow Utilization to coincide with the 23rd Session, IPC, 2008 - Responsibility of the Working Party Executive;
  • Disseminate new scientific and technical information through periodic meetings and posting publications from member countries on the IPC website.

In the future the Working Party will strive to address topical issues such as:

  • Uses and their geographic distribution around the world;
  • Characteristics of wood products to meet industrial uses;
  • Definition of the production process of different forest products from different industries;
  • Complete a price table of wood products and transport costs and destination country; and
  • Issues related to forests products and processes.
  • The Working Party on Poplar and Willow Harvesting and Utilization made the following recommendations:
  • Encourage Governments to promote sustainable Poplar and Willow forest production systems to contribute to programmes on alleviating poverty in rural populations;
  • Encourage Governments to report separate Poplar and Willow statistics in production and utilization data, taking into account their ecological and socio-economic impacts; and
  • Strengthen the integration of production, harvesting and utilization systems by improving the communications between the producers and users of forest products and byproducts.

Reports from previous Sessions

This is the oldest working party of IPC, whose establishment dates from the early 1950s. It brings together all experts interested in the question of logging and utilization of poplar and willow wood.

The working party has drawn up a standard form for technical trials which is intended to describe and qualify the wood of the cultivars used by member countries. The working party has also dealt with felling and harvesting practices and with developing new possibilities for wood utilization. Economic data have periodically been gathered and submitted to IPC sessions, thus making it possible to monitor the evolution of volumes utilized, operating costs and prices.

The working party has indicated that the trend in harvesting is now to use all-tree harvesters in plantations, and specially constructed machinery for short rotation biomass plantations. This has confirmed that the outputs of research are filtering down to the operator. Trends in wood products have been influenced by the need to reduce waste. Traditional uses have remained important but high value products will likely to be more actively marketed in the future and research will, therefore, be important in the coming decade. A summary of recent developments and trends in the utilization of poplar wood is Achievements in the utilization of poplar wood-guideposts for the future by J. Balatinecz, A. Leclerq and D.E. Kretschmann.

With regard to the aims of poplar breeding, it has been the opinion of some in this working party that breeders should aim at producing trees with high density and straight form, apart from resistance to pests and diseases. Others maintain that breeders should endeavour to produce trees that would satisfy a variety of industrial requirements.

Recent working party discussions have included the effect of management regimes, large-scale industrial projects, and the benefits of combinations with agricultural crops or grazing - although this topic is now included in the responsibilities of the Working Party on Production Systems and Environmental Applications for Poplars and Willows. In this context, the role of poplar growing on "set aside" farmland in the European Economic Community (EEC) has been discussed, together with the uses of computer modelling in such situations - see for example "Using bio-economic modelling for the design and evaluation of characteristic agroforestry systems" by T.H.Thomas and R.W. Willis, presented at a meeting of the working party in 1996 (reference FO:CIP:BS/96/10). Member countries have been invited to pay more attention to the environmental aspects of poplar and willow growing, as well as to the recycling of products. The need for greater coordination between the growers and those who use the wood of poplar and willow has been stressed.

The working party recommended from an early stage that joint sessions should be held between the different working parties of IPC, in order to achieve greater coordination of research and development and the transfer of technology. It has proposed that mechanisms should be developed for the greater involvement of the private sector in its future activities, and has recommended that the Executive Committee should investigate ways of promoting student exchanges and participation in meetings of the working parties.

Three research priorities were identified in 1996:

  • wetwood
  • tensionwood
  • biodeterioration and its prevention.

The working party also identified the subject matter for three technical leaflets to be prepared by its members and passed to the secretariat: economics and the modelling of poplar production; production, technical characteristics and the utilization of willows; and production, technical characteristics and the utilization of poplars.

Transverse section of poplar
 (Populus nigra) wood
(Photo: R. Nardi Berti)

Transverse section of willow
(Salix alba) wood
(Photo: R. Nardi Berti)

The following priorities were identified by the working party at the twenty-first session of the IPC and were recommended for research both within and outside the working party:

  • stain (its incidence, causes and impacts on value) in poplar wood;
  • the potential application of biotechnology to enhance wood quality and natural durability of poplar wood;
  • economic analyses;
  • the development of flexible, high-value conversion technologies.


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Innovative machineries for harvesting and chipping (Photo: FAO)


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).

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.

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.


última actualización:  jueves 22 de abril de 2021