Canadian Forest Service Publications

Forecasting the deployment of short-rotation intensive culture of willow or hybrid poplar: Insights from a Delphi study. 2014. Masse, S.; Marchand, P.P.; Bernier-Cardou, M. Can. J. For. Res. 44:422-431.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35380

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2013-0364

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Short-rotation intensive culture (SRIC) of willow (Salix spp.) or hybrid poplar (Populus spp.) is currently at a precommercial stage with a potential to be applied economically across important areas to produce lignocellulosic biomass and environmental services in Canada. A two-round Delphi survey was conducted among 50 experts to assess the future deployment of SRIC in this country. The total area in 10 years (2011 base year) was forecasted as 1330, 4100, and 11 400 ha under pessimistic, realistic, and optimistic scenarios, respectively. The deployment of SRIC in the next decade depends mainly on the development of the demand for SRIC biomass and services, that of production technologies, and the establishment of policies and programs promoting its application. In the short term, research and development (R&D) and policy initiatives should be funded or implemented by various stakeholders to facilitate the deployment of the system. On average, respondents deemed that the potential for long-term (20 years) deployment of SRIC in Canada was good. Some of the conclusions and the methodological approach of this study could apply to short-rotation woody crop systems and to agroforestry systems in Canada and elsewhere.

Plain Language Summary

Short-rotation intensive culture is a method of timber production that takes place over a very short period of time. This method calls for the use of fast-growing tree species such as willow and poplar that are planted at high density on unused marginal farmland. Stem harvesting is performed every 2 to 4 years for about 20 years, which are very short intervals as compared with normal harvest times for trees (40 years or more).

This method is now ready to be used at the precommercial stage. It has the potential to be applied cost-effectively in many parts of Canada over large areas for biomass production. This study examined the deployment potential of this type of culture for the next 10 years. The findings of this investigation indicate that according to three scenarios (pessimistic, optimistic and realistic), in 10 years the total area of this type of culture in Canada will be 1300, 4100 and 11 400 hectares respectively. The implementation of this method of culture over the next decade will depend on the demand for biomass, the development of production technologies and the establishment of policies and programs governing its application. The method of consulting experts developed for this study can also be applied to short-rotation woody crop systems for other species or to agroforestry systems.