Biopoptech: a project to improve the competitiveness of the poplar sector

ProPopulus Team

With the aim of improving the competitiveness of the poplar sector by promoting poplar cultivation and the cascade use of its wood for high-value technological products, the BIOPOPTECH Operational Group has been established in Spain. This collaborative project focuses on the research of different poplar cultivars, from planting to harvesting and processing, to identify the most suitable varieties and drive overall sector growth.

José Luis Villanueva, the Innovative Wood Products Development Manager at CESEFOR and coordinator of GO-BIOPOPTECH, explains that the purpose of this project is to improve the economic performance of the entire poplar value chain, starting from a better selection of clones based on the information obtained throughout the project’s development.

This will allow for increased plantation yields and improved properties of the obtained wood, aiming to provide the industry with a raw material adapted to the requirements of the high-value forest products demanded by the market.

In other words, the BIOPOPTECH project seeks to enhance the competitiveness of the poplar sector, chiefly primary producers, by integrating them into the forest-industry value chain. Its focus lies on optimizing varieties and improving valorisation and standardization tools.

Involvement of the entire value chain

GO-BIOPOTECH is a project that has achieved the involvement of representatives from the entire poplar value chain, including universities, research and development centres, associations, producers, owners, and industries.

As direct beneficiaries, the Operational Group includes the CESEFOR Foundation, which coordinates the project; Bosques y Ríos, a company specialized in poplar plantation management and cultivar research and development; Garnica, a company specialized in poplar plywood manufacturing; Tabsal, specialized in LSL board manufacturing; Föra and Madera+, in forest product innovation; AEFCON (Spanish Association of Plywood Manufacturers); and the Forest Certification Organization PEFC.

Additionally, they have other subcontracted entities such as the University of Valladolid, the University of Santiago de Compostela, the University of Granada, FAFCYLE (Federation of Forest Associations of Castilla y León) and collaborating entities such as the Junta de Castilla y León and the Government of Navarra.

Profitability and product optimization

Currently, only six months after the start of the project, GO-BIOPOTECH has 15 productive plots with five different clones. Villanueva clarifies that there are more plots under study, but the plants are at younger stages.

Specifically, the project will cover at least 30 plots in different areas with the main clonal varieties of Euro-American and Inter-American poplars.

The clones will be studied from two perspectives:

1. Productivity: i.e., the performance of each cultivar depending on the soil conditions, climate, and other factors that may affect their development, as well as their advantages in terms of added value for the industry.

2. Product: The traceability of the wood from the forest to the final product allows for the correlation of the properties of each cultivar with the achieved results.

To this end, various tests will be carried out in the Duero and Ebro rivers basins using the main poplar varieties. The involvement of companies such as Garnica and Tabsal will focus on characterizing and testing different poplar clones in different terrains, ages, and climatic conditions, with the aim of validating them at an industrial level for both plywood and LSL board manufacturing. In this way, the most suitable varieties for product development will be defined, maintaining precise monitoring of each clone in the forest exploitation.

According to Villanueva, all this generates relevant information for both the producer and the industry. On the one hand, by knowing which clones have the best mechanical properties to manufacture different products, the industry can improve its planning and reduce costs. On the other hand, the poplar grower can anticipate the demand for different clones and make appropriate decisions when planting.

Certification and divulgation, other pillars of the project

Villanueva also emphasizes that besides enhancing the competitiveness of the poplar sector, the project aims to facilitate the certification procedure of poplar plantations for owners, enabling them to demonstrate that the wood comes from sustainably managed plots. The demand for sustainable wood is a growing requirement from both the industry and end consumers, who are increasingly aware of the need for certification labels on wood-derived products.

Finally, he points out that divulgation is one of the fundamental pillars of the project, for which the Operative Group will hold informative sessions. The first of these, aimed at poplar growers, will take place on June 8th in Carrizo de la Ribera (León, Spain) to delve into the profitability of investment in poplar plantations and to introduce the BIOPOPTECH Operational Group.

In addition to various presentations, the free event will include a visit to one of the clonal trial plots. For more information and registration, visit


Promoting poplar cultivation and the cascade use of its wood for high-value technological products, the project seeks to develop the value chain associated with poplar plantation and utilization.

European Commission:

The GO-BIOPOPTECH operational group has received a grant of €596,871.76 for its innovative project. The project amount is 100% co-financed with funds from the European Recovery Instrument (EU Next Generation), as established in Royal Decree 169/2018, of March 23.

The content is the responsibility of GO-BIOPOPTECH.

The General Directorate of Rural Development, Innovation, and Agri-food Training (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food) is the managing authority responsible for the implementation of the FEADER and corresponding national aid.

“European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe invests in rural areas.”

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