Carefully managed tree plantations offer an opportunity for sustainable biomass production. In recent years, the responses of the Salicaceae to environmental constraints have increasingly been investigated at different levels of biological integration, giving rise to a physiological approach to the function of trees in environmental restoration and monitoring. Significant progress has been achieved by the poplar and willow community in understanding targeted characteristics of complex tree stress responses. The Fifth International Poplar Symposium brought together experts in this area, with the main objective being to improve, coordinate and communicate existing national research on the biological and environmental dimension of multifunctional poplar and willow plantations. The secondary objective was to develop a network of research scientists and extension workers to provide scientific support for subjects interested in using fast-growing poplar and willow species for tree-related environmental projects. The ultimate goal was to build up services for the multipurpose tree plantation network on local-level management in order to obtain maximized benefits from tree crops. The purpose was also to maximize the synergy between local knowledge and global-level processes that require information on multipurpose tree crop production.