The aim of SUSTAFFOR is to conceive, produce, develop and on-field validate novel techniques aiming at improving afforestation / reforestation projects from an environmental, technical and economic point of view, as well as to explore the synergies between them. These novel techniques include:
- A new generation of soil conditioners: mix of different products improving soil conditions in the soil volume occupied by tree roots during the first years: hydro-absorbent polymers (that absorb water during wet periods and release it during dry periods), fertilizer, root growth precursors, etc. During the project an improved formulation of this technology will be produced, aiming at being an alternative to emergency water applications.
- New groundcovers: mulching mats impeding weed development and reducing soil water evaporation in the area occupied by tree roots during the first years of the plantation. The prototypes to be developed during the project, both built in Europe, are either 100% biodegradable or reusable in successive plantations. These techniques aim at being a feasible alternative to the recurrent application of herbicides or mechanical weeding, and to petrol-based groundcovers.
- To increase the durability and estimate the service life of novel groundcovers
- To reduce overall service costs of mulching techniques
- To increase and quantify the positive effects on tree fitness, and the synergic effect of combining groundcovers and soil conditioners
- To improve and quantify the positive effect of novel techniques on key soil physical and chemical features
- To reduce global AF/RF costs during the first 5 years
- Strengthen the market position of the participating SMEs
- Exploitation Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of the novel techniques
- Raise awareness of managers and end-users on the technical and environmental benefits of soil conditioners and biodegradable or multiple-use groundcovers
- To use acrylamide-free polymers in soil conditioners
- Reduction of carbon emissions involved in the establishment and maintenance of AF/RF projects