Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

International Conference


Marianske Lazne, Czechoslovakia a forest setting for the International Timber Conference

THE International Timber Conference was held in Marianske Lazne, Czechosolvakia, from 28 April to 10 May 1947. Conference members and observers, plus their advisors and staff, totaled more than 140, in addition to the Conference secretariat supplied by FAO headquarters and the Czechosolvak Government. Twenty-one member nations were represented, together with five nonmember countries, the French and U. S. zones of Germany, and five intergovernmental organizations. The list follows:


United Kingdom
United States of America



Emergency Economic Committee for Europe
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development United Nations
European Coal Organization
International Trade. Organization (Preparatory Commission)

The opening plenary session

Two nongovernmental international organizations also had representatives present. They were: World Federation of Trade Unions and International Federation of Building and Wood Workers.

The Conference was opened by Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk in the Casino Hall of Marianske Lazne before a full assembly of delegates and visitors.

His Excellency welcomed on behalf of his government the representatives of countries which had accepted the invitations of FAO and the Czechoslovak Government. This was a very important conference, he said, and it would be a good omen if it could manage to achieve some really valuable results. It was his earnest wish that Europe might recover as soon as possible. That, however, could only happen if European countries got together and honestly faced the situation confronting them.

Mr. Masaryk drew attention to two reasons which made this Conference an important milestone in international economic relations. On the one hand, the Conference was the first international European assembly following the formation of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). Its success, or its failure, would possibly mark the success or failure of this commission's proceedings. Without a doubt, Europe had recovered before from grave crises but if one might hope that it would recover again from this crisis, that hope must be based on collaboration of all countries within the commission, freely examining the shortcomings of the present situation and pooling all their efforts to effect the necessary remedies. Therefore, if the timber problem should be solved by the Conference at Marianske Lazne, a basis of agreement could, undoubtedly, be found for all the other problems with which the commission would he engaged.

On the other hand, the purpose itself of the Conference was of primary importance to the countries of Europe. Mr. Masaryk recalled in this connection the distress of people without shelter and the need of procuring lumber indispensable to the building industries in order to carry out the vast construction programs with which all European countries are faced.

Finally, after indicating some of the items this Conference would have to consider, notably that of price, and explaining that his duties as Minister of Foreign Affairs would not allow him to partake in all the Conference discussions, Mr. Masaryk wecomed the delegates once more and wished them a happy stay in Czechoslovakia. "It is a beautiful country," he concluded " it is a democratic country which has been able to keep its precious European traditions. Cod bless you all."

After the message sent to the Conference by the Director-General of FAO, Sir John Boyd Orr, had been read, the Director of the Forestry and Forest Products Division. Marcel Leloup, gave an address which is reproduced elsewhere in this issue. He was followed by Karel Kavina, Chairman of the Czechoslovak National FAO Committee, and H. J. Hutchinson, Head of the United Kingdom delegation, who expressed his country's belief in FAO as an international body with the greatest possibilities for the good of mankind, and its expectation that the present meeting would lay the foundations for a cooperative effort in the creation of a broad scheme for the maintenance and systematic replacement of European forest resources.

The first plenary session closed with the election as Chairman of the Conference of J. Kolowrat-Krakovsky, head of the Czechoslovak delegation.

Conference headquarters had been set up in the Hotel King of England, named after King Edward VII of England who had stayed there during his annual visits to the old Marienbad. The Secretariat of the Conference was organized as follows:


J. Kolowrat-Krakovsky (Czechoslovakia)


H. J. Hutchinson (United Kingdom)

V. Ropelewski (Poland)

Joint Rapporteurs:

D. Roe (Canada)

B. Dufay (France)

Representative of Director-General, FAO:

M. Leloup (FAO)


E. Glesinger (FAO)


L. J. Vernell (FAO)

Executive Secretary:

J. V. Hyka (Czechoslovakia)

Administrative Secretaries:

M. Greene (FAO)

J. Sobota (Czechoslovakia)

J. Kolowrat-Krakovsky (Czechoslovakia), Chairman of the Conference

A detailed agenda for the Conference had been drafted by FAO and this had been made purposely elaborate so that all aspects of the European timber problem would receive consideration. The Conference, however, had some misgivings as to how its work could be most effectively organized within the ten days available and finally decided that it could not be bound by the draft agenda, but would follow its outline as a guide in conference discussions.

Accordingly the Conference apportioned its work among three committees. The first committee dealt with short-term problems, the second devoted itself to consideration of longer range problems, while the third, composed of chiefs of the various delegations, was concerned with procedure arising out of the recommendations of the other two bodies and with the kind of international organization required to implement them. The third committee was constituted also as a steering committee and, in effect, coordinated the efforts of the whole meeting.

The officers of the committees were:



G. Cerf (EECE)

Chairman, Technical Subcommittee:

J. Campredon (France)


E. Loebl (Czechoslovakia)


B. Pauphilet (EECE)

Assistant Secretary:

V. Hasek (Czechoslovakia)



E. Saari (Finland)


A. Schlatter (Switzerland)


R. Fontaine (FAO)

Assistant Secretary:

V Sehnal (Czechoslovakia)



G. Lange (Sweden)


A. Ceschi (Austria)

Joint Rapporteurs:

D. Roe (Canada)

B. Dufay (France)


J. V. Hyka (Czechoslovakia)

Assistant Secretary:

P. Fevrier (France)

Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk (center) with D. D. Kennedy (U.S.A.) and E. I. Kotok (U.S.A.)

The committees considering short-term and long-term problems held regular sessions from 29 April to 8 May, with breaks on May Day and over the weekend, when delegates were given a welcome opportunity to visit places of interest in the neighborhood of Marianske Lazne. Both bodies set up subcommittees charged with the study of particular problems. Small drafting committees also assembled, when occasion arose, for the purpose of drawing up agreed resolutions and recommendations. The third committee, at its final meeting on the evening of 9 May, approved the draft of the Conference Report for acceptance by the Conference.

The Marianske Lazne Report1 contains only the final results of ten days of intensive work and outlines the agreement reached on many vital points. Many of the issues raised at the Conference were highly controversial, and agreement was not attained without considerable discussion. Debates took place which reflected a real conflict of interests, but the purpose of the Conference was, after all, to bring such issues into the open and provide an opportunity for their discussion and, ultimately, for their solution on a basis of mutual concessions.

1 FAO, Report of the International Timber Conference, Washington, June 1947.

The proposal for a 10 percent increase in fellings, or its implied alternative of restricted consumption, aroused serious opposition. This was to be expected. since overcutting is against all orthodox principles of sound forest management, and no government contemplates lightly still more severe restrictions on timber consumption. In the end, however, this particular proposal was accepted as a deliberate sacrifice for the reconstruction of Europe.

The situation in Germany and again the manlier whereby a satisfactory distribution of available timber supplies might be brought about aroused keen argument. Solutions, satisfactory to all parties, could not be reached and the Conference confined itself to embodying the feeling of its members in general recommendations.

The question of the application of sound forest management to all forests, privately owned as well as public, also led to considerable discussion. No definite agreement was reached, but it was decided to recommend setting up, within the framework of FAO, a European Forestry and Forest Products Committee. which should endeavor to co-ordinate the forest policies of European nations on this and related matters.

Altogether, the results achieved were considerable. The Conference established a clear-cut picture of the size and nature of the timber deficit in Europe. It brought about far-reaching agreements on a series of measures which should help to bridge the gap between current demand and supply in 1948 and 1949. Finally, it approved the concept that in Europe problems of forestry and forest products must be considered in broad perspective, transcending national boundaries. It demonstrated also that FAO was the appropriate body to further the solution not only of forestry problems but also problems of timber and forest products.

The spirit of accord attained through the proceedings of the Conference was evidenced in the speeches made at the concluding plenary session on 10 May, notably in those by B. Dufay, Rapporteur-General of the Conference, D. Kennedy; head of the U.S.A. delegation, and Georges Cerf, Chairman of the Timber Subcommittee of EECE. As Mr. Cerf said, by reducing the timber deficit, the Conference can give Europe not only more timber but also more comfort. Humanity, he said, badly needs comfort after all the suffering it has undergone.

Members of the Conference were received by President Edouard Benes at Hradcany Castle in Prague. President Benes hailed the International Timber Conference as a successful conference. Its success, however, to no small degree, was due to the hospitable surroundings and kindly welcome afforded by Czechoslovakia.

At President Benes' reception in Prague

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page