The Conference Acacia 2014 "Sustaining the Future of Acacia Plantation Forestry"

This is a joint conference of the recently formed IUFRO Working Party (WP) 2.08.07 - Genetics and Silviculture of Acacia, WP 1.02.06 - Ecology and Silviculture of Acacia and WP 2.04.01 – Population, Ecological and Conservation Genetics which will be hosted by the Vietnamese Academy of Forest Sciences (VAFS). The conference will include invited and contributed presentations and posters, discussion sessions, satellite and business meetings, and in-conference and post-conference tours.

Acacias are now an important global resource and there are in excess of 3.5M ha grown in Asia, Africa and South America. They supply wood and fibre for industry, protection of water catchments and fuel and building material for households. Acacias have a special importance in Vietnam and it is logical that this international conference is hosted by Vietnam. Acacias are now a common part of the country’s rural landscape, offering protection to denuded landscapes, wood for industry and fuel and make a strong contribution to rural economies and livelihoods. The strong commitment from the Government of Vietnam and Vietnamese scientists has underpinned this vibrant industry. There are now over 900 000 ha of acacias grown in Vietnam, over one half of which are grown by smallholders. Many, formerly bare hills are covered now with acacia plantings, reducing erosion and accumulating organic matter and soil nitrogen plus offering much to local economies. Vietnam is now the world’s largest exporter of hardwood woodchips and some 90% of the 5.4 million bdmt exported in 2011 was acacia, valued at US$650 million FOB. The estimated value of processed and unprocessed acacia wood products in Vietnam now exceeds US$1.5 billion annually with some US$300 million returning directly to the pockets of the growers. The acacias have been an important tool in meeting Vietnam’s policy objectives for poverty alleviation, reforestation and REDD+. The strong technical foundations provided by the conference will inform sound policy discussion in Vietnam and elsewhere.

IUFRO has recognised this global importance through recently establishing its WP 2.08.07 – Genetics and Silviculture of Acacias. The conference with the theme "Sustaining the Future of Acacia Plantation Forestry" was formed and will be structured so as to promote discussion between geneticists, breeders and scientists concerned with management regime development and interactions of the crop with its biotic and abiotic environment. This broad ranging review should provide scientific support to those responsible for developing and implementing forest plantation management policies. While our primary interest is in tropical acacias we recognize that there is a much more established tradition of planting temperate species such as A. mearnsii, and we will welcome contributions from scientists working on those crops.