, Volume 61-62, Issue 1-3, pp 51-63

Short-rotation woody crops and phytoremediation: Opportunities for agroforestry?

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Worldwide, fuelwood demands, soil and groundwater contamination, and agriculture's impact on nature are growing concerns. Fast growing trees in short rotation woody crop (SRWC) systems may increasingly meet societal needs ranging from renewable energy to environmental mitigation and remediation. Phytoremediation, the use of plants for environmental cleanup, systems utilizing SRWCs have potential to remediate contaminated soil and groundwater. Non-hyperaccumulating, i.e., relatively low contaminant concentrating, species such as eucalypts (Eucalypts spp.), poplars (Populus spp.), and willows (Salix spp.) may phytoremediate while providing revenue from fuelwood and other timber products. Effective phytoremediation of contaminated sites by SRWCs depends on tree-contaminant interactions and on tree growth as influenced by silvicultural, genetic, and environmental factors. Locally adapted trees are essential for phytoremediation success. Among the different agroforestry practices, riparian buffers have the greatest opportunity for realizing the SRWC and phytoremediation potentials of fast growing trees. Agroforestry that combines SRWC and phytoremediation could be an emerging holistic approach for sustainable energy, agricultural development, and environmental mitigation globally.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.