Poplar: efficiency & value

Poplar is one of the most efficient trees in terms of sustainability. It is one of the fastest growing species in Europe and one hectare of poplar captures 11 tons of CO2 every year. Poplar also can be planted on otherwise useless land, thus optimizing land use and increasing timber supply with a renewable source of raw material. It’s speed of growth also makes it an economically sound investment as revenue comes in relatively short cycles. On the other hand, carbon emissions are reduced as the transport footprint diminishes.

Poplar’s big advantage is its fast growth cycle when compared to other trees. It is also a “local” species, as it blends optimally with agro-forestry and poplar plantations positively impact local economies, benefitting rural development and employment.

As the substitution of non-renewable or unsustainable materials, like fossil fuels or concrete, with renewable ones, such as wood, is a must in the journey to a more sustainable economy and society, it is foreseeable that the industry will demand more and more timber in the future, and the high rotation of poplar makes it an extremely efficient source of raw material.

Furthermore, the fact that poplar can be planted in plantations guarantees the supply of locally produced wood, thus avoiding the need for the industries to import material from third countries, keeping resources in our rural areas and so, improving local economies while helping mitigation of climate change, as the logistics carbon footprint diminishes.

For local economies, as poplar cultivation makes a profitable business, it pulls on employment and development requiring both skilled and unskilled labour to grow it and to transform it into products. Although this could stand true for any species of tree, poplar plantations stand out in this issue as the poplar cycle is 12 to 15 years, a very short span of time if we compare it with the 100+ cycle of oak! Actually, poplar cultivation gets quite close to agriculture due to its speed of rotation.
Lastly, the environmental benefits of poplar plantations are most important since these green filters can hold up to 70% to 90% of nitrates and 75% of the sediments. This provides an improvement of infiltration in river areas due to the roots of the poplar trees which help avoid erosion during floods.