In 2015, the United Nations approved the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, that included 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the blueprint for achieving a sustainable future for all. They are interrelated and cover the global challenges that we face every day. Populiculture for land use is completely aligned with these goals, but specially linked to SDG numbers 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 15.
SDG 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages.
Poplar connects with this goal in two ways. First, poplar groves act as air filters against pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulphur dioxide and ozone. One hectare of poplars provides enough oxygen for 142 people; and secondly, poplar groves offer recreational and landscape value.
SDG 6. Clean Water and Sanitation.
Poplar groves act as green filters and protect water masses. Poplar trees can capture up to 70-90% of nitrates and have a nitrate absorption capacity that is 16 times higher than that of a meadow.
SDG 7. Affordable and clean energy.
Poplar is an important and renewable source of biomass.
SDG 8. Decent work and Economic Growth.
Populiculture’s potential to help building a bioeconomy is enormous as it creates rural and industrial employment that generates economic growth for rural areas because manufacturing plants are located near poplar plantations.
SDG 9. Industries, innovation, and infrastructure.
The versatility of poplar allows for many industrial transformation options, from biomass and plywood to building structural frames, for instance.
SDG 12. Responsible consumption and production.
Poplar is a short rotation crop that generates renewable and local raw materials that can help substitute non-renewable fossil-based materials like plastic for packaging for example.
SDG 13. Climate action.
Poplar is one of the most efficient trees in terms of sustainability and acts as a carbon sink. It is one of the fastest growing species in Europe and one hectare of poplar captures 11 tons of CO2 every year, much higher than that of other forest species and crops.
SDG 15. Life on land.
Populicuture connects with this goal in different ways as poplar groves help preserve biodiversity as they serve as nesting sites; they also act as intermediate ecotone between crops and riparian forests. They serve as ecological corridors facilitating the movement of species. Also, poplar plantations can be incorporated in agricultural systems as agroforestry systems.
This connection and synergy between populiculture and the Sustainable Development Goals is extensible to other international goals and policies, such as the European Union’s Green Deal where planting 3,000 million trees by 2030 is another goal.