Harvestable willows, planted to protect roads from blizzards in Western Romania

Three years ago, county authorities in Arad (Western Romania) had ordered the cut of more than 3 000 roadside trees because represented a danger to the traffic, mainly because they were old.
This Monday, for the first time in the country, the County Council launched a pilot program of planting so-called energy willows along roads. These are a type of shrub that grows so fast, that in two years could be up to 7 meters high.
After that, they can be harvested annually and used in the form of briquettes of pellets for heating.
The first road that has this kind of trees on its both sides is the 20 kilometers long route between the communes of Semlac, Şeitin and the Romanian-Hungarian border town of Nădlac.
President of the County Council, Nicolae Ioţcu said energy willows are useful especially at winter, because they prevent snow deposition on the road during blizzards.
Investing now RON 500 000 (EUR 112 000) from its budget, the council will plant similar trees near three other roads next year. They estimate to recover the investment in two years, after the first harvest.
One hectare of plantation produces an average of 40 tones of wood, which can be sold at the price of about EUR 50 /tone. The planted areas on the both sides of the road totalize 67 hectares.
Because of their shape, willows are less dangerous in case of accidents than the trunks of other trees – authorities say.
Energetic willow was imported to Romania from Sweden and is gaining popularity in countries like Austria and Germany because of its very high caloric value.