Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Forest regeneration of the future

Latest research by an EU project on production of nursery tree stock as a source of renewable biomass is making sure the industry will be using the ultimate in environmentally aware and technologically advanced techniques.
Forest regeneration of the future
Forestry naturally satisfies many green objectives. Silviculture, development and care of forestry, provides biomass as an alternative to fossil fuels and trees and soil act as significant carbon sinks. However, growing trees is not as environmentally friendly as once held. Input of fertilisers, pesticides, peat, water and energy during plant production must be reduced to satisfy sustainable forestry.

As a result, forest tree nursery techniques have already seen significant change in the past decade. Seed handling and processing, planting stock storage and in-forest restoration operations have all been the subject of significant research. However, obstacles standing in the way of sustainable results in Europe in particular include diverse ecological, sociopolitical and historic contexts.

Wild and urban foresters have to face particular challenges to harsh growing conditions, diseases and insects. Demands placed on forestry as an answer to the negative effects of human activities are exacerbated by also being under pressure to maintain or enhance biodiversity, mitigate climate change and repair ecosystem functions.

To maximise the output of contemporary research, the project 'A new European technology for cost efficient and environmental friendly production of pre-cultivated forest regeneration materials' (PRE-Forest) combined the very best of technical innovation and planning.

Collaboration between project partners and representatives from both research and business interests nationally and internationally was crucial to satisfy all stakeholders' interests. This approach also served to maximise use of research capacity of enterprises, generate new knowledge, transfer technology and provide access to venture capital or business and innovation support services.

PRE-Forest scientists successfully developed a state-of-the-art system to produce young nursery trees for sustainable forest regeneration in a cost-efficient and environmentally conscious way. In particular, project researchers incorporated a reduction in the need to use heated greenhouse facilities as well as other high-energy inputs.

Cutting the input of energy to cultivate wood, producing a sustainable source of bioenergy while avoiding the use of fossil fuel is a three-pronged approach to reducing greenhouse emissions. PRE-Forest outcomes also stand to achieve a result in environmental improvement by encouraging biodiversity in mixed forest stands as opposed to monoculture of fast-growing varieties.

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