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The world of forestry

AGRIS forestry conducts survey
Accident prevention in forestry
Environmental forestry studies
"World conservation strategy" in preparation by IUCN
New IUFRO tropical group
6 useful forestry titles from FAO

A forecast of wood consumption: by 1994 regional shortages in a world surplus

Consumption of wood is increasing rapidly throughout the world. A study made by the FAO forecasts the consequences by 1994 of the mounting volume of forest products manufactured by industrial countries and the developing countries' increased reliance on wood for fuel.

At a meeting of heads of national forest services the FAO foresaw worldwide wood imbalances by 1994 that would take the form of increasing regional wood shortages even though the world's forest resource potential would be in surplus. Certain developed regions, notably Japan and Western Europe, were foreseen as experiencing shortages with increasing frequency, and importing wood and trading wood products heavily. In many developing countries FAO predicted serious shortages of the basic fuel for heating and cooking, with no means for buying substitutes.

Both in the developed and developing worlds the few nations possessing vast forest resources were seen as being in even more advantageous positions in the years ahead.

To deal with the rapidly widening gap between wood-rich and wood-poor regions of the world FAO urged governments to make heavy investments in activities such as afforestation and reforestation where, it noted, it was often difficult to attract investments. It also told foresters and forest industrialists to radically transform both silvicultural methods of management and ways of utilizing tropical forests, where environmental destruction and waste of resources is rife.

The forecast of world wood consumption was given to delegates from forest services of 79 governments and 10 international organizations attending the Fourth Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry convened here from May 15 through 19. The Committee meets with FAO's forestry department at two-year intervals to examine the state of forestry in the world and review FAO's forestry programmes.

The FAO predicted an increase over the period 1976-94 of 75 percent in world consumption of industrial wood products, mainly in the developed countries, and an increase of 40 percent in fuel wood consumption, all in developing countries. World consumption of paper was foreseen as doubling, requirements for wood-based panels (plywood, fibreboard and particle board) would more than double, and sawnwood needs would increase by 50 percent.

"From the marketing point of view," said the FAO report to the Committee, "it is most gratifying to see such a healthy future prospect for the wood side of the forestry sector's activities, but it is not without its problems."

Removal without replacement of trees and brush for fuel in wood-poor countries such as those of the African Sahel, the Himalayas, the Indian subcontinent, large parts of Southeast Asia and elsewhere has already caused the disappearance of valuable watershed forests, extensive erosion and, consequently, droughts, floods and the spread of deserts.

People in these lands find themselves drawn into a vicious circle: to meet the most basic daily needs of life, they must destroy resources that provide their food, fuel, shelter and livelihood.

Other developing countries that have forests but are using them too rapidly without management and reforestation are moving toward the same fate as countries that are now wood-poor.

The need for fuel wood and the loss of forests for agriculture are the main reasons for this.

Among the world's major forest producing regions, North America and the Soviet Union were seen as remaining in wood surplus positions in 1994. In the developing world a few wood-rich countries will then possess 70 percent of the Third World's forest resources while accounting for only 30 percent of its consumption.

The Third World's wood shortage by 1994 was foreseen as amounting to some 650 million m³ represented in roundwood, mainly needed for fuel, or two thirds of the projected fuel requirement for the two thirds of the population of the world who live in developing countries. This shortage will be concentrated in the wood-poor countries.

Fuel wood, being bulky and of relatively low value, is not traded internationally. It is all cut and used close to the source.

Among the wood-rich developing countries are Brazil, Indonesia and certain West African nations. The development of forestry and the income earned from export of wood and wood products is playing an increasingly important role in their national development plans.

Still, even with the worldwide increase in wood consumption, the FAO maintains that the total potential of the earth's forest resources will remain ahead of consumption in 1994. The time required to maintain this potential surplus of a resource that is-at least theoretically-infinitely renewable is, however, running out. The difficulty lies in attracting sufficient investment and in changing ways of managing and utilizing forests and wood.

The FAO believes that the required level of investment would average $47 000 million per year over the 1976-94 period.

Investment of that magnitude, however, is difficult to attract to forestry. Funds from international sources such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the newly created UN International Fund for Agricultural Development can supply only a fraction of these needs. Private investment is hard to get for the kind of projects most urgently required by developing countries, for example wood lots for fuel and improvement of the overall quality of the environment.

The primary responsibility for forestry investment remains, therefore, with governments. Forest services, however, find themselves at a disadvantage in competing against agriculture, industry and the military, where urgency is more easily demonstrated and results, compared to growing trees, are more rapid.

An important factor in the growing imbalance of the world's wood resources is inherent in the nature of forests and the way forestry is practiced.

Temperate forests contain relatively few species, which become even fewer where the climate is colder. Their main species are conifers and certain hardwoods that are not very dense. The mixed tropical hardwood forests contain hundreds of species of different and often unknown properties. They are located in areas with hot humid climates, often remote and the trees are difficult and expensive to extract, process and market. But tropical forestry, as it is generally practiced, is based on methods originally developed for temperate zones and is extremely wasteful of all those species that are unknown or unwanted on international timber markets.

Dr. K.F.S. King, Assistant Director General in charge of FAO's forestry department, told the chiefs of national forest services that many of their most strongly held beliefs about tropical forestry needed to be radically transformed. With serious shortages on the horizon, he said, it made no sense to continue managing these forests with methods that are outmoded and ill suited to man's needs.

Instead of "creaming" mixed tropical forests of the most valuable woods at the expense of wasteful destruction of most of the other species, he recommended that the unmarketable species be utilized as a source of fibres for wood products such as pulp and wood-based panels. Newly developed industrial processes make this possible and increasingly economical; but well established manufacturing and marketing habits tend to resist innovation.

Among other major questions discussed by the Committee were the integration of forestry and agriculture and the creation of small scale forest industries, both of these recommended by FAO as policies well suited to developing countries.

Agri-silviculture, the harmonization of forestry and agriculture, was suggested as "a prerequisite to halting the alarming forest destruction and degradation by shifting cultivation." Adapted to the differing conditions of developing countries, it was also seen as generally well suited to the way of life of people engaged in small scale farming.

Concerning small scale industry, the Committee's final report recommended that "there is a real need in the developing world for plants of the minimum size capable of producing a product of acceptable quality for the domestic market." These, it added, "should be labour intensive if possible, while utilizing technologies which are not obsolete."

FAO is currently engaged in an intensive programme in this field in cooperation with leading forest industries. The programme has so far produced 10 design studies with 25 more in preparation. The studies are for wood-based panel mills, saw mills and energy generation, and include the integration of primary and secondary forest industries.

The Committee's report said that "from analysis of the models it seems that wood-based panel plants would be able to hold their own economically given protection against dumping. However, in the case of small scale pulp mills, considerable protection, justifiable only on socio-economic grounds, would be required."

The Committee recommended that FAO expand this work to include development of small industries based on wood and wood residues and linked to existing larger scale industrial complexes. It also asked that more emphasis be put on charcoal production, and that consideration be given to small industries based on forest products other than wood, such as naval stores, honey, mushroom cultivation, medicinal and other herbs common to forests.

T.M. Pasca

AGRIS forestry conducts survey

A World Survey of Information and Documentation Services in Forestry is being undertaken by FAO's AGRIS Forestry programme. It was initiated by a questionnaire sent in May to information and documentation centres and computer data bases throughout the world dealing with forestry and forestry-related subjects. Information from the questionnaire will go into a catalogue of forestry information and documentation services.

Recipients of the questionnaire were requested to complete and return the forms as soon as possible so that the catalogue could be prepared by the end of this year.

AGRIS Forestry aims at building a specialized world-wide network of forestry information and documentation centres.

For information regarding the survey contact:

Library and Documentation Systems Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Via delle Terme di Caracalla
Rome 00100 Italy

Accident prevention in forestry

Practical approaches to safety in forestry operations, as well as research and theoretical studies of accidents in forest work will be discussed at an international meeting in Poland from 18 to 22 September.

The Seminar on Accidents in Forestry Operations is being organized by the Joint Committee on Forest Working Techniques and Training of Forest Workers of the Timber Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the European Forestry Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Labour Organization. It will be held at the Forest Research Institute at Sekocin, 20 kilometres from Warsaw.

Seminar participants will consider the approaches to be taken in reducing "the great frequency and severity of accidents which continue to preoccupy many countries in spite of the progress in technology and the improved standard of operator training," according to the seminar announcement.

During the seminar, participants will visit the Forest Research Institute itself, the Experimental Forest Centre at Janow Lubelski, and the Institute of Agriculture, Fertilization and Pedology at Pulawy. They will see practical demonstrations of safe working methods in wood harvesting.

Further information may be obtained from the Timber Section, ECE/FAO Agriculture and Timber Division, Palais des Nations, CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.

Environmental forestry studies

The Department of Forestry and Wood Science of the University College of North Wales, Bangor, U.K. has announced a new master of science degree in environmental forestry.

Candidates are required to undertake course work which will occupy a complete academic year and will be examined in rune. In addition, an individual research project occupying approximately three months is required. In all, the course will be of 12 months duration and candidates will be eligible for the M.Sc. degree of the University of Wales.

The course has a management bias, concentrated on the role of forestry in the environment. It is divided into three sections:

1. The scientific and conceptual basis of environmental management: systems descriptions, data acquisition and analysis, decision making, methods of implementation.

2. Principles of environmental forestry: timber production and the environment, forestry and the landscape, forests, woodlands and conservation.

3. Environmental forestry in practice: case studies in areas selected from forest, national and country parks, urban greenspace and derelict land, private estates, water catchment, recreational and amenity areas.

8th World Forestry Congress
October 16-28, 1978


Registrations received after the July 1st deadline will be accepted subject to availability of hotel accommodations.

Mail registration forms (they were published in UNASYLVA Vol. 29, No. 117) to:

PO BOX 3558

Some twelve in-term visits are planned for the academic year and a seven-day vacation study tour will be an integral part of the programme.

The research topic chosen will be tailored to the needs of the individual. The project will be presented in thesis form and must show wide reading and understanding as well as evidence of critical analysis or appropriate use of advanced techniques.

Applicants should hold an honours degree or an equivalent qualification. Among the most desirable are forestry, biological sciences and landscape architecture.

Other disciplines will also be considered, for example; exceptional candidates from economics and social sciences.

Candidates from overseas must have reached a good academic standard and must be able to meet the financial requirements of the College.

For British candidates the fee for the full length course is £750 plus amalgamation fees (presently £34.50).

For overseas candidates the fee for the full length course is £850 plus amalgamation fees.

"World conservation strategy" in preparation by IUCN

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is working on a policy guidance document, "World Conservation Strategy."

It is aimed, said IUCN, at all concerned organizations, including governments, the United Nations and other inter-governmental bodies. It is being prepared together with organizations associated with IUCN in the Ecosystem Conservation Group, which consists of FAO, UNESCO and UNEP. Actions proposed are not restricted to activities that can be carried out by any one type of organization.

The strategy has the following functions:

· It identifies main ways in which species and ecosystems are depleted, degraded or destroyed.
· It defines effective preventive or remedial action by governments or concerned organizations.
· It proposes priorities for action.

The document is to be presented for approval at the IUCN's 14th General Assembly in late September and periodically updated at subsequent assemblies.

New IUFRO tropical group

A new IUFRO working group, "Wood production in the neotropics via plantations" (S1.07-09) has been created. "Neotropics" refers specifically to those of the Americas. The new group was announced in the form of a newsletter with a brief questionnaire. Text of Newsletter No. 1 and the information sought in the questionnaire are reproduced below.

"This newsletter is the first announcement of a new working group of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO). It is, in effect, an invitation for all interested individuals to join by filling out and returning the attached questionnaire.

Throughout the several nations within the neotropics (the American tropics), there exist many efforts, large and small, to produce wood (lumber, pulp, firewood, etc.) by the plantation of native or exotic forest tree species. Owing to problems of distance and language, communication between the individuals and organizations involved has been inadequate.

The principal objective of this working group is to improve the communication between people and organizations involved in the plantation of wood-producing species in these nations. Members from other parts of the world are also welcomed since their native species, technological advances, ideas or comments will be important for the neotropics just as neotropical species and concepts will be of interest to them.

Other objectives of the working group are to stimulate regional (i.e. Caribbean, Andean, Paraná Basin, etc.) communication between individuals with similar problems and potentials, and to encourage regional cooperative research projects. If funding can be found, other objectives can also be considered, such as offering photocopy services or experimental seedlots to working group members.

Present plans are to include in the newsletter such items as editorials (nursery and reforestation technique, the economics of planting trees for wood, wood as a source of fuel, pines vs. eucalypts, and other such subjects written by group members), an information section (e.g., where can seed be obtained? How is seed best treated, stored, collected? What containerized techniques are used and available in the tropics? How can weeding and maintenance costs be reduced ?), a membership list, a list of recent publications by members, a bibliography of recent publications of interest, advance notice of coming meetings of interest, and news of other IUFRO working groups closely allied to this one.

Because the working group will succeed only if its members participate, it is important that members provide ideas on how to improve it; suggestions on what problems exist that the group should be aware of or involved in; information (published or unpublished) concerning plantations in their home countries; and personal information such as promotions, studies completed, honors received. It is equally important that members pass the word to colleagues so they may also join the group."

Those interested in participating in this working group were invited to fill out and return an attached questionnaire.

For further information contact:

Mr. J.L. Whitmore
Institute of Tropical Forestry
P.O. Box AQ
Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, 00928

Forestry on Korean postage stamps

A four-in-one postage stamp from the Republic of Korea gives a panoramic view of multiple-use forestry. The stamp itself is also multiple use. Four 10-won stamps may be used all together or separately and in every case one or more of the stamps shows a picture of forestry operations in the Republic.

6 useful forestry titles from FAO

A study of planning functions, with technical information on raw materials and pulp and paper manufacture. English French and Spanish editions.

379 pages, 26 ill., clothbound. $12.50*

A study of shifting agriculture in Latin America, with particular emphasis on Venezuela, Mexico and Peru. English French and Spanish editions.

305 pages, 19 ill., $8.00*

A guide to the planning and execution of a forest inventory. English, French and Spanish editions.

121 pages. $3.00*

A trilingual (English, French, Spanish) directory.

283 pages, $10.00*

A manual on production and cost. English, French and Spanish editions.

90 pages, 36 ill., $3.00*

A response to the nerd for economic development in this zone to support a rapidly rising population. English. French and Spanish editions.

185 pages, 30 ill., 3 maps. $7.00*

Available from the Distribution and Sales Section, FAO, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. For orders and information on prices in local currencies apply to any of the FAO Sales Agents and Booksellers listed on the inside back cover.

*Sales agents in all countries, including the United States, will establish local sales prices in accordance with local book-trade practices.


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