“Poplars are a key element for the development of bioeconomy, not only in the production of bioenergy but also, and above all, in the construction industry to replace other materials with a renewable material such as poplar wood”, said ProPopulus Chairman Joris Van Acker in the frame of the Populus 360 Conference, held in Ponferrada, Spain.
Professor Van Acker, who was the keynote speaker for the conference, stressed the need for the European poplar sector to grow: “In Europe we have a million hectares dedicated to poplar crops, but we have to bear in mind that in China there are eight million hectares. We need Europe to, not only to increase the production of poplar wood, but also that of biomass and lignocellulose…”.
He also said that Europe must take responsibility and become a producing continent to avoid dependence on third parties, something that became evident during the first months of the pandemic when there was a shortage of face masks.
The International Conference ‘Populus 360. Innovation, collaboration and challenges in the poplar sector’, was organized by the School of Agricultural and Forestry Engineering (EIAF) of the Universidad de León in partnership with the populiculture company and ProPopulus sponsor “Bosques y Ríos”.
The congress was attended by more than 200 people, from all the poplar producing basins in Spain were represented. During the meeting, the attendees had the opportunity to discuss issues such as sustainability, the health of poplar groves, genetic improvement programmes and other forms of coexistence with agriculture, such as the agropastoral systems that are being applied in Argentina.
Regarding the current conflict between the poplar sector and Spanish regulation bodies Professor Van Acker said that this is an issue that repeats itself all over Europe. “It has a lot to do with the conflict between agriculture and forestry. Meeting points must be found to make both compatible. In some cases, there are somewhat contradictory positions, but if what we want is to bet on an economy free of fossil fuels, this is a good alternative. We must find a way to reconcile all these uses of the land”.