Short communication: A study case on polycyclic plantations (PP) as innovative models for sustainable combined production of noble hardwood and biomass

Keywords: walnut, poplar, alley coppice, sustainable tree farming, short rotation coppices


Aim of study: To verify the short rotation coppices (SRC) aboveground biomass production; to define the best planting intra-row spacing for walnut and poplar growth and wood production, with the last goal to assess the possibility of obtaining competitive yields in comparison to those produced by traditional monocultures.

Area of study: Po Valley, municipality of Meleti (Northern Italy).

Material and methods: A randomized block design with three replications was applied for the experimental design. The growth-monitoring activities started in 2009 and have continued for 5 years on the SRC, 10 years on poplar clone ˈI-214ˈ, whereas on common walnut they are still going on but only data concerning the twelfth year are reported in this work. The normality of distribution was evaluated for growth and yield data of species in the SRC model; all data were analysed with ANOVA; growth data were included in a linear mixed model analysis to evaluate the effect of age, spacing and their interaction, and the effect of SRC rows on growth and yield of poplar and walnut.

Main results: After 5 years of cultivation under SRC system, biomass yields obtained from the poplar clone ˈAF2ˈ were 39.9 Mg ha-1, from the elm 31.9 Mg ha-1 and from the plane 14.8 Mg ha-1. After 10 years high timber production was obtained from poplar clone ˈI-214ˈ (average volume 98.2 m3 ha-1). After 12 years, walnut trees reached a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 17.8±0.2, 18.9±0.2 and 18.7±0.3 cm, respectively, for planting distances of 6, 7 and 8 m, and showed diameter increments of 1.5-2.0 cm yr-1. With these growth rates, walnut can reach a merchantable dimension within 25-30-years.

Research highlights: Polycyclic wood plantations are a recent arboriculture model able to produce, on the same site, different assortments using various crop trees characterized by different growth rates and turnovers. This new type of mixed plantation is more environmentally sustainable compared to monoculture and allows diversification of production, obtaining continuous wood yields over the years (5, 10, 20, 30 years).


Download data is not yet available.


Bergante S, Facciotto G, 2015. Yield of poplar SRC and vSRC grown with different fertilization and irrigation management. Proc 23rd Eur Biomass Conf and Exhibition, 1-4 June 2015, Vienna Austria, pp: 214-218.

Buresti E, Mori P, Ravagni S, 2014. The permanent polycyclic plantation: narrowing the gap between tree farming and forest. In: Genetic restoration in ecosystem restoration using native tree species. State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources. Thematic Study; Bozzano M et al. (eds). FAO and Biodiversity International, Rome, pp: 188-194.

Buresti E, Mori P, 2016. Design, implementation and management of naturalistic permanent polycyclic tree farms. Life+ InBioWood project (LIFE 12 ENV/IT/000153). Ed. Compagnia delle Foreste, Arezzo.

Carle JB, Duval A, Ashford SA, 2020. The future of planted forests. Int For Rev 22: 65-80.

Carnus JM, Parrotta J, Brockerhov EG, Arbez M, Jactel H, Kremer A et al., 2006. Planted forests and biodiversity. J For 104(2): 65-77.

Castro G, Mori P, Zanuttini R, 2013. Produttività di sfogliato e diametro dei fusti. Indagini preliminari sui cloni di pioppo "I-214" e "Neva". [Veneer productivity and drum diameter. Preliminary investigations on "I-214" and "Neva" poplar clones]. Sherwood Foreste e Alberi Oggi 192: 5-9.

Cateau E, King L, Vallauri D, 2018. Plantations industrielles d'arbres a croissance rapide: réalités, risques et solutions. Rapp, WWF Paris.

Chiarabaglio PM, Coaloa D, 2004. Software per la stima del pioppeto maturo [Software to estimate poplar plantations]. Sherwood Foreste e Alberi Oggi 10(6): 17-20.

Coaloa D, Chiarabaglio PM, Giorcelli A, Pelleri F, Plutino M, Rosso L, Corona P, 2020. Redditività di pioppeti ad alto fusto e di piantagioni di latifoglie a legname pregiato in Italia. [Profitability of poplar and hardwood broadleaves plantations in Italy]. Forest@ 17: 101-108.

FAO, 2020. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020: Main report. Rome.

Fernández-Moya J, Urbán-Martínez I, Pelleri F, Castro G, Bergante S, Giorcelli A et al., 2019. Silvicultural guide to managing walnut plantations for timber production. Bosques Naturales SA, 86 pp. ISBN 978-84-09-12163-2.

Forrester DI, Bauhus J, Cowie AL, Vanclay JK, 2005. On the success and failure of mixed species tree plantations: lessons learned from a model system of Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia mearnsii. Forest Ecol Manag 209: 147-155.

Gong C, Tan Q, Liu G et al., 2021. Mixed-species plantations enhance soil carbon stocks on the Loess plateau of China. Plant Soil 464: 13-28.

Gonzalez JR, Palahi M, Trasobares A, Pukkala T, 2006. A fire probability model for forest stands in Catalonia (north-east Spain). Ann For Sci 63: 169-176.

Jactel H, Brockerhoff EG, 2007. Tree diversity reduces herbivory by forest insects. Ecol Lett 10(9): 835-848.

Le HD, Smith C, Herbohn J, Nguyen H, 2021. A comparison of growth, structure and diversity of mixed species and monoculture reforestation systems in the Philippines. J Sustain For 40(4): 401-430.

Liu CL, Kuchma O, Krutovsky KV, 2018. Mixed-species versus monocultures in plantation forestry: Development, benefits, ecosystem services and perspectives for the future. Glob Ecol Conserv 15: 1-12.

Ludvichak AA, Schumacher MV, Viera M et al., 2021. Growth, biomass and nutrient stock in mixed-species planting of hybrid Eucalyptus urograndis and Acacia mearnsii in Southern Brazil. New Forests.

Marron N, Epron D, 2019. Are mixed-tree plantations including a nitrogen-fixing species more productive than monoculture? For Ecol Manag 441: 242-252.

Mola-Yudego B, Arevalo J, Díaz-Yanez O, Dimitriou I, Freshwater E, Haapala A et al., 2017. Reviewing wood biomass potentials for energy in Europe: the role of forests and fast-growing plantations. Biofuels 8: 401-410.

Morhart CD, Douglas GC, Drupaz C, Graves AR, Nahm M, Paris P et al., 2014. Alley coppice-A new system with ancient roots. For Sci 71 (5): 527-542.

Norman J, Ellingson L, Boman M, Mattsson L, 2010. The value of forests for outdoor recreation in southern Sweden: are broadleaved trees important? Ecol Bull 53: 21-31.

Paquette A, Messier C, 2010. The role of plantations in managing the world's forests in the Anthropocene. Front Ecol Eviron 8: 27-34.

Paula RR, de Oliveira IR, Gonçalves JLM, de Vicente Ferraz A, 2020. Why mixed forest plantation? In: Mixed plantations of eucalyptus and leguminous trees; Bran Nogueira Cardoso E et al. (eds). Springer, Cham.

Pelleri F, Ravagni S, Bianchetto E, Bidini C, 2013. Comparing growth rate in a mixed plantation (walnut, poplar and other nurse trees) with different planting designs: result from an experimental plantation in northern Italy. ASR 37 (1): 13-21.

Pelleri F, Castro G, Marchi M, Fernández-Moya J, Chiarabaglio PM, Giorcelli A, et al., 2020. The walnut plantations (Juglans spp.) in Italy and Spain: main factors affecting growth. ASR 44(1): 14-23.

Pra A, Brotto L, Mori P, Buresti E, Masiero M, Andrighetto N, Pettenella D, 2019. Profitability of timber plantations on agricultural land in the Po valley (northern Italy): a comparison between walnut, hybrid poplar and polycyclic plantations in the light of the European Union rural development policy orientation. Eur J For Res 138: 473-494.

Proietti P, Sdringola P, Brunori A, Ilarioni L, Nasini L, Regni L et al., 2016. Assessment of carbon balance in intensive and extensive tree cultivation systems for oak, olive, poplar and walnut plantation. J Clean Prod 112: 2613-2624.

R Core Team, 2017. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. [11 May 2020].

Rivest D, Oliver A, Gordon AM, 2010. Hardwood intercropping system: combining wood and agricultural production while delivering environmental services. [11 Apr 2020].

Thomas E, Kurien VT, Prabha S, Thomas AP, 2020. Monoculture vs. mixed-species plantation impact on the soil quality of an ecologically sensitive area. JAEID 114(2): 41-62.

Truax B, Gagnon D, Fortier J, Lambert F, 2014. Biomass and volume yield in mature hybrid poplar plantations on temperate abandoned farmland. Forests 5(12): 3107-3130.

Vietto L, Facciotto G, Giorcelli A, Allegro G, Castro G, Nervo G, Bisoffi S, 2012. New P. ×canadensis clones for wood industry and biomass production selected in Italy. In: Improving lives with poplars and willows. 24th Int Poplar Commiss, Dehradun, India, 30 Oct-2 Nov. Working Paper IPC/11 FAO, Rome.

How to Cite
PlutinoM., BerganteS., FacciottoG., VitoneA., BianchettoE., SansoneD., ManettiM.-C., ChiarabaglioP.-M., BidiniC., & PelleriF. (2022). Short communication: A study case on polycyclic plantations (PP) as innovative models for sustainable combined production of noble hardwood and biomass. Forest Systems, 31(1), eSC02.
Short communications