Project: High productive and climate adapted poplar clones for the energy and forestry sector in Baltic Sea Region

The aim of this project is to develop a platform for the deployment of “SnowTiger”, a new elite poplar clone mixture from Swetree Technologies AB (STT) on a large scale in Scandinavia and in the Baltic Sea Region in cooperation with Euromediena UAB in Lithuania. The SnowTiger consists of a unique material bred at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) for the climate conditions of northern Europe. The material is suitable for establishing highly productive wood fiber plantations for multiple purposes such as energy, pulp, veneer and environmental applications. There are large areas of land available for this type of plantations in the Region. However, growing short rotation poplar plantations at high latitudes, in a harsh climate and often on various types of former agricultural fields is connected to difficulties, especially in establishment phase. In this project we address these problems by evaluating different types of planting stock in establishment phase and developing a cost-effective production of suitable planting stock for nurseries. _x000D_The challenge of global warming has led to the legal obligations of EU countries to increase the share of renewable energy production by 2020. In Sweden, the goal is to reach 49% of the total energy supply from renewable resources. Lithuania is obligated to increase the share of renewable energy supply to 23% by 2020 (i.e. 20% in electricity production and 60% in central heating). These goals can largely be reached by using the biomass produced in highly productive short rotation forestry (SRF) systems. The biomass production from SRF instead of using fossil fuels contributes to the reduction of GHG emissions and implies that raw material is not produced on land with high biodiversity value (The Renewable Energy Directive, 2009/28/EC). _x000D_The R&D ventures on short rotation willow coppice (SRWC) in Sweden have not yielded expected results of reaching 50 000 ha in 2013 and 200 000 ha by year 2020. The area of SRWC has stayed unchanged, while the interest for poplar based SRF has increased resulting in establishment of ca 300 ha new plantations annually. The new plantations are established in southern Sweden, while large areas of available land in central and northern parts of the country cannot be used due to the lack of suitable clones. The estimated area available for planting poplar based SRF is ca 0,5 million ha in Sweden and several millions of ha in the countries around the Baltic Sea including parts of Russia, Poland and Ukraine. _x000D_The CO advantages of poplar plantations are their high production and the flexibility of the production system in terms of establishment, management, harvest and storage of biomass. The procurement chain from traditional forestry can be adopted and easily alternate to reach better cost-efficiency. In comparison with SRWC the poplar SRF system is suitable for establishment on small patches of land, without loss of profitability and even a positive effect on biodiversity on landscape level. By providing the climate-adapted clones to the market in northern Europe the amount of raw material for energy and other purposes can be increased within a short period of time. _x000D_This project supports the final phase prior to the commercialization of SnowTiger clones that can be planted on large areas in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region. The SnowTiger series from STT will be deployed to the market with a unique, continuous supply of new clones that will eventually replace older material. This approach minimizes the risks for outbreak of diseases and insect calamities. However, the large scale poplar based SRF in northern Europe will also encounter some specific problems that are addressed in this project. _x000D_Different types of soils may require the use of site-specific different establishment methods or using different planting stock. Poplars can be established using a number of different types of rooted and unrooted cuttings or pregrown plants. The type of planting stock affects the purchasing costs and the costs of planting, transport, storage and handling of the material. One- or two-year-old long poles can be for example used for establishment on some types of cultural grasslands. Using this type of planting stock can be combined with appropriate cultivation practices to decrease various types of biotic and abiotic stress and damages and to attenuate effects of weed competition. _x000D_The advantages and disadvantages of using different types of planting stock will be evaluated by establishment of R&D poplar plantations on 3 major types of soils on former cultural pastures/hay fields and on former arable land in Lithuania and Sweden. The production system for rooted and unrooted cuttings will be evaluated and compared to the presently used commercial production of plants. Finally, the clones included in SnowTiger mixture will be evaluated in detail for the quality characteristics and usability for different types of products.

Acronym SnowTiger (Reference Number: 8443)
Duration 01/07/2013 - 30/06/2016
Project Topic The project aims to i) complate the final R&D stage before the release of SnowTiger, a poplar clone mixture for Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region, ii) to evaluate establisment methods of poplar plantations and iii) to develop cost-effective production of poplar planting stock for nurseries.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 10

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Partner Sweden
3 EUROMEDIENA, UAB Partner Lithuania
3 SweTree Technologies AB Coordinator Sweden