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New technologies oriented to improve sustainable management in the european forestry sector.

The objective of this strategic project is to apply new
biotechnological tools and agronomic technologies to
improve the european forestry sector.

Thousands of hectares of natural and tropical forest are destroyed each year to obtain wood which is utilized by developed countries. Many environmental problems, such as soil erosion and CO2 accumulation (the greenhouse effect), will increase with the destruction of natural and tropical forests. In order to prevent these problems, many initiatives are being proposed such as wood certification, new forestry programmes, sustainable forest management and the utilisation of environmentally-friendly industrial processes. Forests in Europe provide important social, cultural and ecological values and represent the greatest single land use within Europe. These forests are threatened, due to natural and artificial processes such as air and soil pollution, fires, diseases and climate changes. In the case of hardwood species, a detailed analysis of worldwide wood production and markets, clearly indicates that the availability of high quality wood has been waning over the last few years. As a consequence, wood prices have been increasing at an average rate of 11% per annum over the last 30 years. New plantations of hardwood species, under sustainable management, using the latest agronomic technology to produce certified wood, could avoid part of the destruction of natural and tropical forests by the introduction of new sources of wood to both the timber and veneer market. In addition, it would be an important way of fixing the CO2 produced by industrial activities. In other words, it would be possible to develop an economic activity (wood production) with a positive social and environmental impact. Some positive social and environmental impacts of these kinds of intensive plantations are the following: 1. The protection of tropical rainforests and areas of ecological interest on the planet, through the sustainable production of timber trees under environmentally friendly cultivation, which will safeguard, at global level, the destruction and felling of natural forests. 2. Improvement in environmental areas surrounding agricultural land of high agricultural performance and yield. 3. Improvement in the environmental quality of the atmosphere, through the creation of cultivated forests featuring a high oxygen yield and absorption of carbon dioxide. 4. The production of timber trees as an alternative form of cultivation which may be set up as part of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) agricultural and conversion programme. 5. Improvement of the vegetal material of future European forests. The production of both softwood and hardwoods using sustainable management to obtain certified wood in the shortest period of time, requires: 1) genetically improved plant material, and 2) the use the latest agronomic technologies. Improved plant material is only available in a few hardwood species and some softwood species, mainly due to the long period of time necessary to complete a selection cycle and the limited knowledge of the genetic structure of breeding populations in terms of the genetic structure. New technologies which are available to overcome these problems such as micropropagation, interspecific hybridization, the production of clones of elite trees by tissue culture and their performance evaluation in comparative trials, molecular markers and genetic transformation, are opening new horizons to the plant breeding programmes of both softwood and hardwood species. New agronomic technologies such as drip irrigation, soil analysis, symbiotic relations between plant and microorganisms and fertilisation, have been widely used in crops and fruit production but not in plantations aimed to wood production. Given this situation, the following R & D programme focusing on solving this situation is proposed: 1. Intensive Forest Plantations 1.1. Selection of plant material (Walnut, Cherry Tree, Red Oak, Maple, etc.) 1.2. Studies of adaptability to different soils and environmental conditions. 1.3. Quality control 1.3.1. Studies of photosynthesis, biomass and cycles of production. 1.3.2. Early tests oriented to evaluate plant growth and wood quality. 1.3.3. Infrared thermometry. 1.4. Forestry technology. 1.4.1. Design of fertirrigation programmes. 1.4.2. Ecologically sound pest management methods (Bio-pesticides) 1.4.3. Design of ecologically sound weed control programmes. 1.4.4. Development of new pruning methods. 1.4.5. Studies on sound water utilisation. 2. Biotechnology 2.1. Micropropagation. 2.1.1. Development of micropropagation methods for each species. 2.1.2. Plant production for demonstration trials. 2.2. Genetic improvement. 2.2.1. Haploids production by anther culture and its utilisation in protoplast fusion hybridisation. 2.2.2. Transformation techniques for transferring novel genes into hardwood and softwood species. 2.2.3. Intraspecific and interspecific hybridisation using selected trees. 2.3. Symbiotic microorganism utilisation (bacteria and mycorrhiza). 2.4. Comparative studies in order to improve propagation techniques. 4. Development of Silvicultural models and Management Systems focused on: - Multiple use of forests (soil protection, water conservation, landscape, recreation, etc) - Modelling ecosystem processes (e.g. desertification). - Forest products (wood, cork, resins, fruit, etc). - Forecasting tree growth and stand production. 5. Technological Development for the Surveillance and Protection of Forests - Prevention of forest fires. - Pest and disease control. - Prevention of forest degradation caused by soil and air pollution, or changing climate conditions. 6. Development of Technologies to Re-establish Forests in Arid, Semi-Arid and Degraded Areas. - New technologies to permit afforestation (e.g. inter- species association) - Studies of new species which allow ecosystems to be developed in degraded areas. Soil restoration. 7. Development of a Log and Wood Prices Database oriented to know periodically Market Changes and Trends. 8. Studies on Wood Certification and its impact on Forest Management and Wood Prices. Keywords: forestry, hardwood, tree improvement.
Acronym: 
EUROFOREST (IMP)
Project ID: 
2 144
Start date: 
01-01-1999
Project Duration: 
120months
Project costs: 
100 000 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.