With the Eastern Woodlands’ tremendous forests, iron could be smelted with the preferred wood, and in 1810 the USA produced 45,000 metric tons of pig iron. As previously stated, the colonial era was marked early on by mercantilist practices. In Mesoamerica, where the first , royal monopolies in gold and silver, stealing arable land from the natives, and banning industries that could compete with those in Spain were predominant practices. When the British as their foothold in India, they immediately began to ban weaving and turn Bengal into a plantation to supply British mills. British soldiers eventually amputated the thumbs of Bengali weavers. When began agitating for freedom from the British, one of his campaigns was to replace imported British textiles.
In summary, the industrialization of the UK, the USA, and Europe was greatly enabled via robberies on an epic scale, such as entire continents. Where the people could not be easily eradicated or where tropical diseases decimated the invaders, the conquerors “only” enslaved them as they turned their economies into mines and plantations for the conquerors' benefit. Most of humanity’s misery today is a legacy of those activities and a key dynamic of the , as the world’s poor are destroying the habitats of the world’s endangered species in order to eat.
The research community is called to harmonize the outcomes of the large number of experimental results on multifunctional tree plantations (with particular reference to poplar, willow and eucalypts) in order to identify the most useful targeted plant traits in the perspective of global change scenarios (). This review focuses on recent literature produced mostly by Italian research teams involved in investigation of the tools, factors, processes and technologies required for the throughput characterization of . Here we report on the application and the development of new and rapid approaches for quantifying variation in wood and/or tree-specific anatomical, morphological, physiological and molecular traits. How to promote the sustainable development of multipurpose tree plantations is still a matter of debate. The development of alternatives to traditional fossil-based fuels for power, the reversion of farmlands into natural forest areas, the rehabilitation of degraded sites, the re-establishment of forests in fluvial areas have all become common goals for central and regional government agencies at the European level. However, the success of plantation programs will depend on appropriate genetic resources availability, relative benefits and costs of plantation, as well as on effective research, development and management, innovation and technological advances. The realization of multipurpose tree plantations will also be contingent increasingly on recognition of and respect for the principle of sustainability, in its full sense.
So far, the evidence is that SRC (willow and poplar) may be a suitable system for decontaminating soil with slightly elevated concentrations of Cd, such as in agricultural land resulting from high rates of application of phosphate fertilizers () in a relatively short-term period. Similar evidence is not available for other elements, with estimates of hundreds, or even thousands, of years being required to clean up soil contaminated with elements such as Pb and Zn. Well-designed and well-documented demonstration projects are needed to promote phytoremediation as a remediation technique, especially if budgets of local authorities are limited and the alternative is that no treatment is carried out. In choosing the optimal strategy for multifunctional tree plantations, it may be preferable to grow specialized tree crops with high yield, as the greenhouse gas value increases, leaving more land to the recolonization of native woody species (cf. ), including poplar-willow alluvial stands. Alternatively, multifunctional tree plantations with high ecosystem service may be widely cultivated or restored for the replacement of ecologically degraded functions (, biodiversity conservation), intentionally sacrificing maximum yield. This debate over the relative advantages of land sharing land sparing takes on a new urgency in the face of expanding bioenergy needs.
On the other hand, transgenic poplars and willows may provide the means to effectively remediate sites contaminated with a variety of pollutants at much faster rates and at lower costs than can be achieved with current conventional techniques (). Indeed, the success and future development of multipurpose tree plantation is largely dependent upon the selection of appropriate candidate genotypes possessing the most desirable and exploitable growth characteristics, physiology, morphology and adaptability to agronomic practices. Yet, a successful path toward increased production of biomass-derived energy requires a thorough accounting of costs and benefits ().
Several scientific presentations in the workshop reported positive effects on the environment, including carbon sequestration and ecological restoration benefits, at the field scale, with impacts strongly depending on the management, age, size and heterogeneity of the biomass plantations. However, at the regional scale, significant uncertainties on environmental effects of bioenergy tree plantations still exist, and there is a major concern that extensive commercial production of bioenergy plantations could have negative consequences on biodiversity, particularly in areas of high nature-conservation value.
The theme of the workshop, “Stress biology in : research models towards multifunctional plantations”, was chosen in view of the increasing imperative that local communities face in developing low-carbon, bio-based economies and livelihoods. The workshop brought together researchers in the climate change mitigation and environmental monitoring potential of poplar and willow (and eucalypts) plantations. Ranging from the lab to the field scale, this workshop summarized the current knowledge and gaps in the stress biology of these and their impacts on the environment (environmental monitoring, ecological restoration, carbon sequestration) at national level, crafting guidelines for land reclamation.
Because of long breeding cycles (a traditional breeding program requires 26+ years for completion), tree domestication cannot be rapidly reached through traditional genetic improvement methods alone, whereas integrating modern genetic and genomic techniques with conventional breeding will process faster tree domestication. Indeed, programs that utilize advanced methods of breeding and propagation require approximately 13 years (). The early identification using genomic selection prediction models will improve its efficiency by reducing the cycle of genetic improvement, without eliminating the field-testing phase, from mating to propagation of seeds for commercial plantation, to approximately 5 years.
A project was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR), National Interest Research Program (PRIN) 2008, on “Molecular, physiological, and agronomic analysis for selecting and managing in phytoremediation” (following PRIN 2005 “Trees and forest plantations for environmental restoration: physiological and molecular mechanisms in the selection of for phytoremediation of heavy metals and hydrocarbons”). The project has had the main task of providing national and local stakeholders with updated information on biomass production and phytoremediation activity of multifunctional tree crop plantations. With respect to the final event concluding the project, about 50 researchers were actually registered denoting a rather complex research network (, ) in contributing to a long-term collaborative national repository, where experiments on innovative techniques and their applications can be discussed.
Tree growth may help forests to take up large amounts of the emitted fossil fuels. Forest plantations, as carbon sinks, are playing a critical role in the climate change negotiations and constitute a central element in the scheme to limit atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations set out by international agreements. Predicting future climates is uncertain, though temperatures are projected to rise by 1.5-3.5 °C by the end of the century. A better mechanistic understanding of global warming consequences might come from an analysis of site-specific effects of temperature on growth and development of temperate and boreal tree species ().
Faster tree growth in a warmer climate may help mitigate CO2 release from fossil fuels and land-use change, especially where temperatures are limiting, though natural disturbances (extreme drought, insect outbreak, forest fires) may also increase under warmer temperature conditions, which may be detrimental to carbon storage from faster tree growth. The success of clonal testing and tree improvement in breeding programs for is currently advancing the trend towards multipurpose tree plantations for maximizing tree productivity, which may be implemented in decision support systems for plantation management ().