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Second generation of planted hardwood forests in the EU

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WOODnat (Second generation of planted hardwood forests in the EU)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

WOODNAT objective is to boost Walnut economy:
- Competitive, European Walnut to be competitive to the American Walnut
- Profitable, European plantations to be profitable for landowners, making possible to boost rural economy, and
- Sustainable, Traditional European Forests of Hardwood to be preserved by means of a realistic and profitable business case.

The challenges are.
- Walnut is a slow growing species with long-term returns
- The American Walnut rules the market
- Private and public experiences on growing European Walnut did not succeed.

The Project should to address a 2nd generation of Walnut economy in Europe:
- Improved plants
- Sustainable management
- Competitive transformation
- High-quality wood

- Seeds. Plant selection in order to define an improved European Walnut genetic.
- Nursery. Making possible the up-scaling of walnut plant production.
- Plantations. Defining and spreading a profitable and sustainable model for European Walnut plantations across Europe.
- Log supply. Developing tools in the field of TIC for more efficient communication between producers and consumers of European Walnut Wood.
- Log transformation and wood quality. Developing products, quality definitions and robotic tools based on the specific characteristics of European Walnut.
- Re-growing trees. Developing a bio-method to avoid re-grow of Walnut trees

The Project is important for Europe because:
- Contributes to the circular economy
- Promotes local species
- Is focused on high added-value products
- Develops knowledge in the field of genetics and biotechnology
- Involves the whole value chain
Tasks performed during Woodnat implementation:
- Sharing of genetic material between partners: BOSQUES NATURALES, CREA, and INDUSTRIAL PLANTS and in vitro production of plants.
- BOSQUES NATURALES and INDUSTRIAL PLANTS developed the optimization of plant production achieving a higher survival rate. They also developed trials on mycorrhization achieving a higher number of leaves in the early stages of growth.
- ECM worked on the selection of fungal species to degradation of tree stumps. Therefore, more than 1000 trials were carried out in different locations.
- SEISTAG, LOSAN and ASIMOV have developed and tested a Robotic Veneer Handling System which reduces the costs of manipulating narrow wooden products
- LOSAN has produced European walnut veneer and has identified two paths for added-value products by means of changing the color: dyeing and vaporization. SEISTAG developed the same target by means of digital printing.
- SEISTAG and LOSAN developed boards veneered with mixed species which include European Walnut.
- CREA tested the hardness of different walnut products
- INDUSTRIAL PLANTS succeed in producing European walnut at lab scale and is ready to scale-up the production of European walnut
- WAF developed an APP under the technical descriptions of BOSQUES NATURALES
- BOSQUES NATURALES has designed three new plantations of European walnuts, two of them were actually implemented

Social activity:
- Kick-off meeting in Santiago, on October 2016
- Meeting with Project Officer in Santiago, on October 2016. It included visiting industry
- General Assembly in Mantova, on June 2017. It included visiting plantations and industries related to the material
- Presentation at coordinator day in Brussels, June the 2017
- General Assembly in Madrid, on February 2018. It included visiting plantations.
- Presentation in Brussels (all members), on May 2018
- The project was included within the Summary of Carrefour International du Bois in 2018
- Poster presented at Toledo EU meeting, in October 2018
- General Assembly in Montpellier, on October 2018. It included visits to CIRAD and the participation of non-members of the project
- The project was included within the UNECE Billboard in 2019
- Visit of SEB experts in May 2019
- Symposium at Polish Academie of Science in Paris in September 2019

Public outputs:
- Sylvicultural manual with more than 60 pages
- A manual of thinnings
- The project website, flyer and others
- A public APP for boosting Woodnat plantation, management and commerce
- A second website focused on offering products developed within the project
- Up to 14 public presentations within the wood industry, furniture designers, and sectorial fairs
- Up to 5 public videos in the internet

Technical outputs:
- A Geographical Information System with the small plantations
- Technology for Robotic Veneer Handling System, which reduces the costs of manipulating narrow thick veneer items
- 100% of the deliverables originally planned have been submitted on time
- The use of hybrid nut has shown advantages in terms of yield and quality of the first log.
- The high input model for plantations (irrigation and mono-specific plantation) is economically and environmentally less feasible than the Italian widespread mixed and polycyclic models. This second model can become a valid purpose for the new plantations in Spain.
- The evaluation of logs could make possible using walnut wood for the production of parquet. The potential refers to producing small tables without serious defects. This opens a possible destination for wood coming from young or small trees or logs deriving from thinning.
- Thin veneer production could be feasible for small diameter logs taking advantage of 100% softwood logs to support dyeing processes as the beaching process can be afforded.
- Colour modification by means of vaporization could make feasible using young trees as it darkens the material.
- The first experiment on biological degradation of walnut stumps has been performed. The results will improve the knowledge about the efficiency of fungal strains in two ways: (i) walnut stumps degradation, and (ii) regrowing control and edible mushrooms production. The quality of the experimental design and the further statistical analysis will allow publiching the expected results in journals of the highest scientific level.

- An improvement of the market of walnut wood; which would affect many plantations in Spain and Italy that need a thinning and others that show a low productivity.
- Connecting the small and medium owners with the same need represents an economic advantage for the owners. Allocating these assortments to a market of higher value than that of biomass.
- The implementation of more sophisticated cultivation methods (hybrids clones, polycyclic and mixed plantations) useful to improve yields and quality and decrease production costs in new future plantations.
- A renewed interest of all the actors along the value chain of European walnut
- Using fungi for stopping stumps regrow means lower costs of stumps treatment and also a more profitable activity which includes producing edible mushrooms production. It also means using organic treatment instead of chemical or mechanical stump removal techniques and improving biodiversity in walnut plantations.
Intermediate thinning of wallnut plantation for Project trials
Italian GIS of plantation showing stem quality cases
Experimental aplication of edible fungi for stopping stumps regrow
Spanish GIS of plantation showing stem quality cases
Hardness test of European walnut
Thin veneer produced with small diametre European walnut