The German federal government has ambitious goals for the expansion of renewable energy. Wood shall make a significant contribution. However, the increase of timber production in Germany is very limited, as the reserves of the national forests are already being utilized largely and the potentials of private forests are difficult to mobilize. Therefore, new ways shall be opened up to meet the growing demand. This includes the plantation of fast-growing, high-yielding trees, such as poplars and willows, on agricultural land. There are several test areas distributed nationwide, mainly for research and demonstration purposes, but till now no commercially run short rotation coppices (SRC). This has primarily economic reasons. Furthermore, there are uncertainties as to which areas and regions are suitable for the cultivation of energy wood. SRC may have a more favourable sustainability performance than annual energy crops. However, SRC imply, due to their life cycle of 20 and more years, a long-term intervention in ecosystems and the landscape. Depending on the location SRC may also counteract the targets of climate, groundwater and nature protection or cause land use conflicts.
Against this background, the project has the following objectives:
- Development of criteria for selecting suitable areas for the establishment and management of SRC with respect to nature conservation, spatial planning and economic aspects;
- Identification of conflicts of interest between agriculture, energy production, nature protection, water conservation, landscape planning and tourism;
- Development of strategies for the environmentally friendly production of energy wood avoiding land use conflicts.