GROWTH AND PRODUCTIVITY OF POPLAR SPECIES IN SOUTHEASTERN KAZAKHSTAN
A small area of forestation and an acute shortage of timber are reasons to seek ways to improve productivity and the rational use of forests in the territory of Kazakhstan. A deficit in timber can be compensated, to some extent, by planting stands of fast-growing plantation species, including top and hybrid Populus spp, which are commonly referred to as “poplar”.
There is an increased interest in poplar, globally, due to its organic traits and the economic value it provides, including:
- rapid growth and ability to produce wood that is technically suitable for cutting within 20 years of planting;
- a source of suitable timber for use in most industries;
- the ability to grow in soils that are not generally suitable for agricultural use;
- a potential source of timber for widespread use in screening, landscape and recreational plantings; and
- the ability of most poplar species and hybrids to asexually propagate.
There has been extensive planting of poplar trees in Kazakhstan, especially in the south and south-east. Poplar trees have been planted in populated areas, along roads and in forest stands. However, these plantings are unsuitable as a source of timber for commercial or ornamental purposes. Hence, there is a need to establish plantations of poplar for timber supply in Kazakhstan.
The most common types of poplar in this country are the deltoid, Algerian, and Bolle, which were used in the extensive greenery planting of southeastern Kazakhstan. The main factors ensuring high productivity of poplar plantations are the soil conditions of fertility, good aeration and adequate moisture. Results of this study indicate that the greatest height increase occurs in these trees between the age of 5 and 10 years, and for trunk diameter, between the age of 4 and 9 years. After this age, the growth rate gradual declines, with a sharp fall off in the rate noticeable between years 14 and 16. Additionally, results of this study show the high productivity of poplar plantations, in plot sizes 2.5 to 3 m by 1.5 to 2 m, with 2000 – 3000 trees per hectare. This compares with the production of timber mass from stands of 5000 – 7000 trunks per hectare, which leads to rapid growth of trees in height, but an earlier growth reduction in diameter.
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