According to FCBA, L’institut Technologique Forêt Cellulose Bois-Construction Ameublement (the Cellulose Wood- Furniture Construction Technological Institute) there is a positive perspective for poplar plantations ahead. After years of gloom due to low prices, among other reasons, the economic environment is becoming favourable again for poplar plantations in France.
The technological institute affirms that the upcoming construction of new processing units “suggests tensions on supply due to the renewal deficit observed over the past ten years”.
These tensions on supply have boosted the interest of several professional organisations on cultivating poplar “for the benefit of society and a diversified and dynamic industrial sector”, according to the institute. Nowadays, cultivation techniques are well known, and the cultivar supply is diversified.
The research centre has recently published the results of an initiative launched in the years 1990-1995, when FCBA –then AFOCEL– established a vast network of silvicultural experiments called the “New Forests” network.
FCBA was born in 2007 from the merge of AFOCEL (Association Forêt Cellulose) and CTBA (Technical Centre for Wood and Furniture) and its mission is to promote technical progress, to participate in improving yield and guaranteeing quality in the industry.
FCBA’s field of action covers all the forest-wood and furniture sectors: forestry, logging, sawmill, pulp, wood-based panels, framework, carpentry, structures, furniture, packaging, and various products, and it is the only European centre that works from the upstream of the forest-wood sector until the end of the product’s life.
The New Forests initiative focused mainly on planting density and its influence on the total production volume and the unit volumes produced. More than 20 years later on, all the evidence has been compiled. The data collected opens up the possibility of modelling the growth of poplar plantations and using it as a function in the initial planting density estimate. A model would make it possible to compare various silvicultural options. Together with an economic analysis, the growth model combines a technical and economic analysis with several options, thus supporting decision-making.
As part of the experiment, the New Forests cultivars network were subjected to biotic and abiotic adversities, in particular the rust attacks with Melampsora larici-populina in the Beaupré cultivar (in north-eastern France) and sudden stops of growth (around 10 years) in the cultivar Luisa Avanzo.
Among other conclusions, the document published by FCBA states that “conventionally, in regular tall forests, the increase in planting density results in an increase in the volume of total production. Of course, the total production must be put in perspective with the unit volume requested by the manufacturers. But in the face of a foreseeable tension in supply, it is likely that the ages and dimensions of exploitability will be revised downwards. In order to benefit as quickly as possible from the full production potential of poplar, it is legitimate to try to adjust the planting density to the duration of the rotation and the target unit volume”.
The complete research results are available for download here.