Wood products are a key resource for the bioeconomy. The development of new modified wooden products represents a great opportunity to promote the bioeconomy. In addition, it boosts the substitution of non-renewable materials of fossil origin with other derivatives of wood which is a renewable, sustainable and non-polluting product.
Joris Van Acker, president of ProPopulus and professor and director of the Wood Technology Laboratory of the University of Ghent, came to this conclusion, and others, within the framework of the conference Treeconomics. Wood in a sustainable economy. The conference was organised by ProPopulus and sponsored by ING Spain. It was held in Madrid at the end of June.
Van Acker highlighted that, thanks to the development of engineered woods that improve the structural properties of poplar, it has high potential for use in the construction industry.
He also said that “the EU Strategy on Biodiversity commits to planting three billion trees by 2030” and added that “in Europe we have a poplar industry, and the more poplars, the more products we can develop to create a better bioeconomy”.
He went on to say that “Europe must embrace this trend”, providing resources so that poplar producers can maintain an investment that has no return until after 10 or 15 years, when these trees are ready to be harvested.
An opportunity for the rural world
Currently there is no common criterion within the EU in relation to the cultivation of poplar. In some countries, such as Italy, this crop is considered as agriculture, so it has access to CAP aid, but in others, such as Spain, it falls within the forestry category that does not have access to this type of incentive.
Pedro Garnica, former president of ProPopulus and president of the Garnica Group –one of the world’s largest manufacturers of poplar plywood– explained that the absence of defined policies for the forestry sector is a major problem, as it creates opportunities and roots for the population in the areas, both in forest management and in the processing industry.
He also pointed out that poplar wood is the one with the greatest demand on a global scale and highlighted its sustainability characteristics, since poplar, among other features, has an excellent ability to purify the air by capturing CO2.
Lastly, he emphasized the need to promote plantations both in Spain and in the rest of Europe to meet future market demands and he demanded more attention for the sector and highlighted that “the poplar is a great opportunity for the rural world”.