Short-rotation willow coppice is an agricultural activity offering long-term environmental, social and economical benefits in the regions where it is deployed.
Revitalization of farming activities in rural areas
Perennial and highly tolerant to adverse growing conditions, willow can play a central role in the revitalization of farming activities in rural areas. In Canada, SRWC could become a valuable end-use for the hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland that is currently abandoned or under-utilized.
Promotion of local energy independence
With a farm gate energy balance reaching up to 55 energy units produced per unit consumed, willow fuelwood allows its end users to hedge against the long-term volatility of fossil energy prices.
Job creation and sustainable economic growth
The economical heating of buildings with fuelwood requires a locally-sourced woody biomass supply (< 100 km), a constraint that significantly curtails the export of energy dollars while stimulating the creation of sustainable jobs, locally. By setting the foundations for the development of high-value added biorefining activities, SRWC could become a genuine lever for sustainable economic growth in the rural communities of Canada.
Climate change mitigation
The displacement of fossil fuels by biomass for building space heating is one of the most cost effective strategies for greenhouse gas abatement. From nutrient recycling of municipal sludge to soil erosion control, willow-based energy projects can also provide additional environmental benefits.