Short-rotation forestry with hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L.×P. tremuloides Michx.) in Northern Europe

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This review summarises the knowledge about the ecology, breeding and management of hybrid aspen (Populus×wettsteinii Hämet-Ahti=P. tremula L.×P. tremuloides Michx.). The review is restricted mainly to Northern Europe, where hybrid aspen has been most intensively studied and cultivated and where it has proved to be one of the fastest-growing hardwoods, suitable for the production of pulp- and energy-wood using the principles of short-rotation forestry. During recent decades over 4500 ha have been cultivated with hybrid aspen in the region. A number of research articles and domestic project reports involving hybrid aspen have been published, providing the basis for this review. Breeding has resulted in clones with high productivity and improved resistance to pests and diseases. Thus, hybrid aspen has fulfilled the preconditions for becoming an economically valuable hardwood in Northern Europe. Hybrid aspen plantations can be established on abandoned agricultural land, on forest land, and for the reclamation of exhausted surface mines. However, fast growth rate occurs only in fertile sites with good nutritional and hydrophysical properties. An increased area of Populus plantations on forest or agricultural land can have both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity, depending on landscape context, management activities and considered organisms. Further studies are needed concerning silviculture, site-growth relations, stability of clones, environmental and biodiversity impacts in large-scale plantations at various sites and adaptation of hybrid aspen to climate change.

Keywords: Afforestation; Populus; boreal region; plantation forestry

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Silviculture, Institute of Forestry and Rural Engineering,Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia 2: The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk), Svalöv, Sweden 3: Department of Crop Production Ecology,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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