The International Poplar Commission (IPC) is one of the oldest statutory bodies within the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It was founded in 1947 by 9 European countries in the aftermath of WWII destructions, when poplar and willow culture was considered a priority to supporting reconstruction of rural and industrial economies.Statutory bodies are established by the Director-General of FAO at the request of member states to carry out specific tasks in support of the work of FAO and to provide specialist advice in high-priority areas or questions.
IPC now comprises 37 member countries that have accepted the Convention and established a National Poplar Commission (NPC). IPC aims to promote the cultivation, conservation and utilization of poplars and willows of the Salicaceae family. Poplars and willows are multi-purpose species and form an important component of forestry and agricultural production systems worldwide, often owned by small-scale farmers. They provide a long list of wood and fibre products (sawn lumber, veneer, plywood, pulp and paper, packing crates, pallets, poles, furniture and small handicraft), non-wood products (animal fodder), environmental services (rehabilitation of degraded lands, forest landscape restoration, climate change mitigation) and are grown increasingly in bio-energy plantations for the production of biofuels. These attributes make poplars and willows ideally suited for supporting rural livelihoods, enhancing food security, alleviating poverty and contributing to sustainable land-use and rural development.
IPC carries out its mandate by supporting research and management activities through six international, cross-disciplinary working parties dealing with (1) harvesting and utilization of poplar wood; (2) diseases; (3) insect pests; (4) genetics, conservation and tree improvement; (5); production systems, and (6) environmental applications. IPC is the only international forum that brings together poplars and willow managers, users and researchers to facilitate the exchange of ideas and the discussion of topics that are of concern to the member countries. IPC is also the only international authority that has been appointed by the International Society for Horticultural Sciences for the registration of the names of cultivars and clones of poplars (1958) and willows (2013). IPC has had an important role in the development of the forest and timber sectors in rural areas, largely through the transfer of knowledge on poplar and willow cultivation and the exchange of technologies and breeding material.