To maintain the contact amongst the research groups identified below is the main objective. Coordinated research on the physiology and modelling of productivity of eucalypt plantations in southern Europe will be performed along with tree breeding for short rotation forestry. The impact of eucalypt plantations in water use will also be considered.
Eucalyptus plantation trials have been established in Portugal, Spain and Italy. In an attempt to optimize biomass production in Eucalyptus globulus (E globulus) an irrigation and fertilization experiment was installed in March 1986 near Obidos, Portugal. Net primary productivity reached 35 ton per hectare per year (t/ha/year) in the irrigated-fertilized plantation by the third year of growth and 22 t/ha/year in the control (rainfed without fertilizers). E globulus genetic variability among populations of different provenances in terms of growth and cold tolerance was studied. In 1985 a set of provenance trials were established in 6 sites in Portugal, covering situations from north to south and coastal to inland. In addition cold tolerance of different populations of E globulus was studied in the laboratory. A preliminary analysis of tree height showed that the Australian provenances tested were not superior to the Portuguese in terms of growth and survival. Cold damage assessed in trials installed in frost prone areas of northern and inland Portugal showed significant differences among provenances. The Portuguese provenances from the north and centre of the country performed well. Cold damage in leaves has been assessed from the electrical conductivity of the exudate of leaf discs after different periods of hardening. Changes in growth, gas exchange and quantum yield of photosynthesis have been followed during the acclimation period in genotypes of contrasting cold tolerance.
Eucalypt plantations in southern Europe are the only large scale short rotation forest plantations in the EC. Nevertheless significant aspects of their response to environmental conditions are unknown and there is a need for breeding of highly productive genotypes frost hardy and drought tolerant. Under this network, in addition to exchange of data and expertise, the work programme is limited to activities being developed with funds from different EC research programmes as well as the national governments, and consists of:
1) The study of the influence of environmental conditions in productivity and water use of eucalypt plantations. This work will be performed essentially by the coordinator in Portugal with the cooperation of the groups from the Universities of Lancaster (Division of Biological Sciences) and Edinburgh (Department of Forestry and Natural Resources) in the UK and the Station de Bioclimatologie, INRA (Paris-Grignon, France). Studies of the physiological regulation of growth and gas exchange between plants and the atmosphere (carbon assimilation and transpiration) at the canopy and single plant level will be performed in the laboratory and in the field. The data obtained will be used to parametrize and improve models to simulate productivity, evapotranspiration and water use efficiency.
2) Tree breeding for traits that improve tolerance to cold seems essential if eucalypts are to be used more widely in Europe. A number of trials of Eucalyptus species and provenances and clones was established in Portugal as well as in Italy (Societa Agricola Forestale, Rome) and Greece (Centre for Renewable Energy Sources). Under this network the three groups will exchange data and expertise. Detailed studies on the cold acclimatization will be performed in a selected group of genotypes. The objective is that species or provenances with adequate cold tolerance must be identified and propagated.
3) Meetings of the groups involved are scheduled to evaluate the state of the knowledge, exchange information and prepare future cooperation.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts