Draft for Alaskan Poplar Standard

Iceland has gathered comprehensive experiences in poplar forestations. A project outcome was the preparations and a draft of a quality standard for Alaskan poplar in English. This work was innovative and of great use for forest industries outside Iceland to learn from Iceland’s poplar experiences. Still there are no existing standards for poplar timber. Trétækniráðgjöf and the National Forest Service of Iceland worked together on this output for poplar timber. This included the consultation of different stakeholders in Iceland, like the Icelandic Standards Organization. This draft for poplar standards can serve as an initial point when starting formal standardization process at a later stage, be it in Iceland or even at the European level. During TreProX project there was work done to take a closer look to the wood quality of poplar (Populus trichocarpa) wood; bulk density, bending strength and stiffness OE).

Main objectives and scope of this standard preparations was: The objectives of the project was to investigate whether poplar wood grown in Iceland meets international wood quality standards (ISO) for use as structural timber in buildings. This study shows that there is a good correlation between bulk density and bending strength in Icelandic grown poplar. It can therefore be concluded that poplar with a higher density is generally a stronger material and is more suitable as construction timber.

The results from the bending strength (MOR) tests show that the poplar fulfills in most cases the bending standards but does not fully meet the “best” strength classes of softwood, as the stiffness (MOE) is relatively low. Poplar is well suited as structural timber but does not have as good properties as softwood. If poplar is to be used as structural timber, it may be necessary to increase the timber dimension in comparison with softwood. There was a significant difference in bulk density between Yakutat and other breeds/clones. Also, a significant difference was between Kenai Lake (Hallormsstaður) and Iðunn (Suðurland) clones. Because there is a clonal difference in the bulk density of poplar it is important for future cultivation to select those clones that produce timber with the highest bulk density if the aim is to grow structural timber. The possibilities of using wood from poplar are many, just like from many other types of wood. Poplar wood is more homogeneous than the wood of coniferous trees, the density is comparable to softwood, the wood is easy to work with, it accepts dyes (paints and dyes) well and is in most cases suitable as construction timber.

The value of wood depends on the end-product that will be produced from the trees. The final product that provides the least added value is industrial wood, which is used, for example, as a carbon source in metallurgy. The most added value is the production of sawn timber and planks, which are used in timber construction, interior design, wood cladding and furniture. It is important that the wood that comes from Icelandic forests, including poplar, turns into durable products, so the carbon that the trees tied up in their wood is maintained for a long time.