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Polycyclic plantations​

A brief look at polycyclic plantations

The initiative stems from the desire of Cartiere Carrara and the Carrara family, within the scope of the Italian Forestation Protocol of Rete Clima.

In the province of Lucca, in the area of Badia Pozzeveri (relatively close to our small production centre of Capannori), a series of natural type polycyclic plantations and a training and study centre will be realised related to the themes of environmental sustainability and enhancement of the wood-paper chain.

It is an action of innovative natural development, which creates value for both the environment and the local economy through the realisation of forest plantations on the land.

The polycyclic plantations, subject of the project, will requalify a flat area that is currently characterised by residual agricultural value, with the goal of creating productive forest plantations of innovative conception. These are artificial forest plantations created for productive purposes, where different plant species cohabitate with different growth and cutting times – continuously replanted after cutting, or characterised by independent regrowth by means of shoots– to ensure forest coverage of the permanent topsoil over time.

Natural type polycyclic plantations are usually composed of an alternation of:

  • medium-long cycle plants cut at 15-40 year intervals from planting (hazelnut, cherry, oak, maple, ash, linden), the wood is used as structural wood or for manufactured products;
  • short cycle plants cut at 8-14 year intervals from planting (in particular poplar), used for the production of paper or packaging;
  • very short cycle plants, cut at 6-7 year intervals from planting (e.g. plane), used as firewood;
  • shrubs that are not cut and contribute to maintaining soil coverage.

The varied composition means that the different species are cut at different times, allowing a modest impact of these interventions on the landscape and on the habitats created. Furthermore, the limited agricultural practices required by this management allow for preservation of the carbon stock in the soil, avoiding an increase in global warming due to the massive repetition of tree cutting activities and subsequent replanting.

This type of planning and management of the wood – which includes the permanence of at least 30-40% of the trees after each cutting cycle – allows to couple different productive species (namely the cutting of firewood, with structural or constructive function and for the production of cellulose) with the logic of permanent coverage of the topsoil and protection of biodiversity.

The wood management method created by the polycyclic plantations brings multiple benefits: productive, visual, bio-ecological benefits and habitat for animal species (due to protection of local biodiversity), regulation of rainwater, conservation of carbon stock in soil. All thanks to the limited cutting (to the permanence of an important part of the wood) practices which, nevertheless, are able to supply local production chains, including that of the poplar and of cellulose production for paper production.