A great opportunity for the forestry industry

ProPopulus Team

The European Green Deal poses a great opportunity for the forestry industry. The document draws the main lines of a strategy aiming to transform the EU into a “fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy” with no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, and “where economic growth is decoupled from resource use”, according to the communication released by the EU.

With regards to forests, the same document establishes that “the new EU forest strategy will have as its key objective effective afforestation and forest preservation and restoration in Europe to help increase the absorption of CO2, reduce the incidence and extent of forest fires and promote the bio-economy, in full respect for ecological principles favourable to biodiversity”.

Plantation forests and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) have a key role to play in reaching the Green Deal objectives for the year 2050. SFM has three main objectives: ensuring the stability and persistence of forests, optimize and maximize its uses, and improve its yield in a sustainable way. This can only be achieved if new trees are planted once the ones that make up the forest have been cut and harvested at the right age.

As it is well known, wood is a natural, renewable, bio-based resource with carbon storage properties, and it is currently at the forefront of developing a low-carbon bioeconomy. In order to build a green economy, non-renewable resources (like plastics, fuel or concrete) must be substituted with sustainable and renewable resources.

Poplar plantations present huge opportunities in tackling climate change and building a green economy in Europe. They can contribute greatly to the Green Deal goals since, given its versatility for transformation and high rotation, they can help meet market demands taking pressure off natural forests.

Poplar is one of the most sustainably efficient species in Europe as its speed of growth maximizes CO2 storage. Poplar also can be planted on otherwise useless land, thus optimizing land use and increasing timber supply with a renewable source of raw material. Poplar plantations can also hold between 70% and 90% of nitrates and 75% of sediments preventing erosion during floods.

But the poplar wood industry still lacks proper regulation within the EU for it to contribute as much as it could to conquer the objectives proposed in the Green Deal. Within the European Union, there are different criteria regarding Populiculture. Whereas in some countries, such as Italy, it is considered as agriculture, and in others, like France, it is considered as forestry. This leads to uneven opportunities for growers, depending on where the forest or plantation is located.

It is a must for the EU to come about with a unified criteria and proper incentives for growers in order to boost poplar plantations in all producing countries thus helping mitigate the effects of climate change.

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