Simulating Light Availability under Different Hybrid Poplar Clones in a Mixed Intensive Plantation System
Fast-growing hybrid poplars have been proposed as a means of achieving restoration objectives on former agricultural land by providing shelter for slower-growing species. Intensive two-stage scenarios of mixed plantations are also possible using valuable hardwoods interplanted among hybrid poplars. The latter would be harvested at maturity (approximately 20 years) once their protective role has been accomplished, leaving more space for the full development of the second cohort. We implemented simulations of hybrid poplar growth in the SORTIE-ND model and used it to test scenarios with clones varying in growth and crown allometry, different hardwood species, and spatial arrangements, to maximize production of both groups. Important differences in growth and allometry were manifested among clones over time, which translated into important differences in available light between rows. Sustained growth for most hardwoods appeared optimal using wider spacings of 16 m, compared with 12 m, between poplar rows. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to integrate fast-growing hybrids and intensive silviculture scenarios into spatially explicit models. These models are necessary support tools for the efforts now being invested in intensive silviculture in the face of diminishing forest resources, increasing wood and fiber demands, and climate change.
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