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The work of FAO

ECE timber committee
Eucalypt study tour
European forestry commission
Technical assistance notes

The Conference of FAO, the governing body of the Organization, has made a considered effort to build up permanent machinery to bring together leading administrators and specialists concerned with forestry and forest products for periodic high-level discussions of regional or special problems. This has now reached a point where the machinery covers, by regions and by subjects, much of the entire field of FAO's responsibility. The aim will continue to be international agreement and the exchange of technical information on which international action can be based.

The principal regional bodies already established, and which will meet in 1956 or 1957, are the:

Asia-Pacific Forestry C Commission (APFC),
European Forestry Commission (EFC)
Near East Forestry Commission (NEFC),
Latin American Forestry Commission (LAFC),
Joint Sub-Commission on Mediterranean Forestry Problems (SCM).

The terms of reference of the regional forestry commissions are broadly to co-ordinate national forest policies on the regional plane to the extent that this is considered desirable, to exchange information and advise on recommended practices in regard to technical problems; and to make appropriate recommendations to the Director-General and to governments. Between sessions the FAO Headquarters staff is responsible for the implementation of decisions, if necessary with the assistance of consultants, technical assistance experts, working parties or special technical meetings.

The activities of these bodies require close collaboration with the United Nations and its three regional Economic Commissions - the Economic Commissions for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), for Latin America (ECLA), and for Europe (ECE). The professional staff for the Timber Division of ECE and the secretariat for the ECE Timber Committee are provided jointly by ECE and FAO. Such co-operation serves to avoid duplication of effort and helps to secure realization of recommendations, especially where these go beyond the immediate competence of forest authorities.

Permanent bodies on special problems include the International Poplar Commission and the International Chestnut Commission, while a subcommission on teak is about to be started in Asia. In addition, the Director-General has been requested to convene certain special technical meetings or conferences in 1956 or 1957, including a Latin American poplar conference, a eucalyptus conference, and the Fourth Conference on wood technology.

Also in 1956 will be held the Twelfth Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), a non-governmental body with which FAO has a formal agreement for co-operative work. Preliminary planning for the Fifth World Forestry Congress will also be started.

ECE timber committee

The Timber Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe held its twelfth session at Geneva from 4 to 9 November 1954 under the chairmanship of F. M. du Vignaux (France). J. O. Söderhjelm (Finland) and J. Kaczerginski (Poland) were elected as vice-chairmen, and representatives of 20 European countries and of the Soviet Union, Canada and the United States participated in the session. Representatives from Bulgaria, the Eastern Zone of Germany and Hungary were present for the first time.

The Committee carried out its customary review of the European timber market for the current year and the coming year on the basis of facts and figures supplied during the session.

Firmness, with a balance between supply and demand, characterized the European market in sawn softwood in 1954. The level of imports proved higher than was generally expected, mainly due to the abolition of consumption controls in the United Kingdom, but the high level of general economic activity in Europe - especially in house building - also played a part. Nevertheless, consumption did not rise commensurately with output of the sawmill industry and sawn timber prices were still high in relation to those of competitive materials so that substitution appeared to continue.

Reviewing prospects for the coming year, the Committee envisaged little change in the level of total demand while prospective export availabilities seemed to be adequate. No significant fluctuations either in prices or in the volume of trade were expected in 1955. It was noted that log prices seemed excessive in relation to present sawnwood prices, and any further rise in the latter would seem to jeopardize consumer demand especially in importing countries.

Consumption of pitprops in Europe was believed to have declined. The volume of imports during 1954 was low but stocks in the importing countries were well maintained. The present stability in the pitprop market was likely to continue.

Demand for pulp and paper, and hence for pulpwood, rose steadily during 1954. However, both production and export availabilities exceeded expectation, and no major difficulties were experienced. Progress continued in the pulping of hardwoods and of inferior softwoods so far not generally used - an encouraging trend in the direction of the more rational utilization of timber. Strong demand for pulpwood was expected in 1955, but supply prospects indicated that the requirements of European pulp mills would be met.

Some members of the Committee thought that long-term trade arrangements might be a useful way of achieving stability in the European timber market, but others maintained that such arrangements would be confronted with considerable opposition and difficulties in many importing and exporting countries at the present time. As another means, the Committee therefore envisaged reviewing the forward situation for a lengthier period than one year at its next session.

Satisfaction was expressed with the results so far achieved in the field of logging techniques and training of forest workers. The proposal to establish a Joint Committee between FAO and ECE to continue the work initiated by the European Forestry Commission (EFC), was approved.

The Committee also discussed and made recommendations on a number of other items figuring on its agenda, notably timber price statistics, substitution of timber by other materials, standardization of softwood grades and sizes, and the elaboration of more uniform conditions of sale and appropriate contract forms in respect to various categories of timber. The bigger producing and importing countries had established standard contracts but the smaller producers and importers had not, which put them at a disadvantage.

Eucalypt study tour

One of the bodies mentioned above, the Joint Sub-Commission on Mediterranean Forestry Problems, was initially established by the European Forestry Commission (EFC), but in 1953 was altered by the FAO Conference into a joint body with the Near East Forestry Commission, to be concerned with problems of countries of the Mediterranean basin and eventually of areas of similar climatic conditions elsewhere in the world. The fourth session of this body, Silva Mediterranea, was reported in the last issue of Unasylva.

The third session (Turkey, 1952) recommended that Member Governments set up national working teams of experts on eucalypts which should meet periodically to exchange information on such problems as choice of species, planting and management. The first of such meetings was arranged in Morocco from 22 to 31 October 1954, at the invitation of the Resident General of the gouvernement chérifien. Experts from Algeria, Cyprus Italy, Libya, Metropolitan France, Morocco, Portugal and Tunisia, participated in an instructive study tour organized by the Administration des Eaux et Forêts, and A. Metro, Director of the Forest Research Station at Rabat. (Mr. Metro's study for FAO, Eucalypts for Planting, has recently been published.)

In the course of this tour, the participants were able to inspect work with eucalypts under a variety of conditions throughout the country. Nurseries, arboreta, shelterbelts, watershed plantings, soil conservation demonstrations, sand dune control installations, and profitable c commercial plantations were seen. The high caliber of the technical work accomplished by the Moroccan foresters was impressive. Especially to be noted were the close and effective relations existing between the administrative forestry officers the research personnel, local government administrators and private owners of eucalypt forests.

The participants discussed the particular technical points which they had agreed to study and undertook to work on these problems within their own countries and report back at the next session of the Mediterranean Sub-commission. These points included adoption of a standard identification form, the carrying out and recording of technology tests, the propagation of eucalypt hybrids by cuttings, seed collection anti exchange, and the effect of eucalypt cultivation on soil development, since in a number of countries it has been found that the rate of growth in artificial plantations markedly decreases after three or four rotations.

European forestry commission

The European Forestry Commission of FAO held its seventh session at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, from 8 to 13 November 1954, under the chairmanship of E. Saari (Finland), with S. Duschek (Austria) as vice-chairman.

The following member countries were represented: Austria, Belgium. Demnark, Finland, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Yugoslavia. Observers from Bulgaria Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland. Romania, Eastern Germany and the U.S.S.R. participated for the first time. Several international organizations were also represented.

In his opening speech, Mr. Saari welcomed the observers from the Soviet Union and the eastern European countries and hoped they would continue to help with the Commission's work. Mr. Leloup, Director of the Forestry Division, FAO, referred to the Commission's role as a pilot model for the forestry commissions set up in other regions, while the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe, Mr. Myrdal, spoke of the experience in collaboration between FAO and ECE. He emphasized the part that forestry could play in the economic development of the countries of southern Europe, in which ECE was vitally interested.

In its usual review of national progress reports on forest policy, the Commission took note with appreciation of the many important measures that had been taken by

Member Governments, such as the adoption of new forest laws, adjustment of forest management to current economic trends, integration and rationalization in the wood-using industries, intensification of research and wide dissemination of the results, and measures for guaranteeing workers stability of employment and for improving their living and working conditions.

Examining figures of felling forecasts for 1954 and 1955 and of actual cut in 1953, the Commission concluded that the cut for the region as a whole would probably prove higher in 1954 than in 1953 and might reach the 1952 level. The percentage of industrial timber was increasing slightly. The Secretariat under R.G. Fontaine (FAO) was requested to produce for a future session a comparison between national "allowable cut" and felling forecasts.

The permanent working party on afforestation and reforestation met for two days prior to the full Commission, with W. Plym Forshell (Sweden) in the chair. On the basis of its report, the rate of development in 1953 of afforestation, planting outside the forest, forest improvement and reforestation operations under long term programs was regarded as satisfactory. For example, 41,500 hectares were afforested in 1953, as against 223,500 hectares in 1952. The Commission recommended that current policies be continued and suggested that if approved programs began to appear inadequate to meet trends in timber demand, any necessary acceleration and enlargement of activities should be brought about by granting more funds and equipment to the agencies now already in existence, rather than by creating any new agencies.

The Commission heard with interest statements on forest policy from the observers of the U.S.S.R. and eastern European countries, and also the news that Endothia parasitica w as attacking oak and elm in the Soviet Union, as well as chestnut, and that two experimental stations were actively engaged in investigating methods for controlling the spread of the disease.

Delegates recognized that television was becoming an increasingly efficient instrument for general publicity purposes, and Member Governments were advised to consider the production of forestry films especially suited for showing on television programs.

To simplify the despatch and exchange of films, the Commission recommended that those governments which had not yet done so should become parties to the UNESCO-sponsored Agreement on Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials.

Like the ECE Timber Committee, the Forestry Commission concurred with the establishment of a Joint Committee on forest working techniques and the training of forest workers. This Committee is to foster international collaboration in improving working techniques and training in logging and other forest operations, with a view to increasing productivity and a higher standard of living for forest workers. Special attention is to be given to increasing the efficiency of labor while reducing the manual effort required, and to the prevention of accidents and the reduction of waste. A description of the work underway was contained in the last issue of Unasylva together with a report on another concern of the European Forestry Commission, protection from avalanches and torrent control.

The Commission drafted outlines of a future investigation into the status of small woodlands, a subject of study adopted at the preceding session. It felt that the preservation and increased productivity of farm woodlands and small forest properties, and the establishment of commercial plantations, entailed:

(a) extension services to owners;

(b) financial assistance in the initial operations of establishment, in carrying out improvement works and in purchasing equipment;

(c) tax relief where the owner can prove financial sacrifice; and specific legislative measures particularly towards such ends as consolidation of holdings and formation of owners' association or co-operatives.

The Secretariat under R. G. Fontaine (FAO) would prepare a questionnaire for circulation before the next session. Member Governments, in replying, would be asked to distinguish between woodlands that were and were not worked under the supervision of a trained forester.

At the conclusion of the session, Sir Henry Beresford-Peirse (United Kingdom) and J. Keller (Switzerland) were unanimously elected chairman and vice-chairman respectively for the ensuing period.

Technical assistance notes

Through 1955, it is expected that there will be some 50 technical assistance officers operating on forestry missions in 22 countries of the Far East, Near East, Latin America and southern Europe. These experts will themselves be drawn from 15 different countries. In addition, specialists will be filling short-term assignments in connection with training courses, seminars and regional development projects such as the Central American Integration Scheme.

A report on the achievements and also the disappointments of the Expanded Technical Assistance Program (ETAP) to date will be issued later in the year as one of the features marking the Tenth Anniversary of the formal foundling of FAO.

Fellowship Program

Recently the arrival was celebrated at Rome Headquarters of the 500th holder of a Fellowship awarded by FAO under ETAP. He came from Indonesia where he is the manager of a sawmill, and he was proceeding initially to Belgium to study the maintenance of saws "sawdoctoring" as it is called.

The history of this Fellowship program dates back to 1949 when the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the creation of a special technical assistance fund through which experts might be sent to requesting countries to help with problems of economic development, demonstration equipment might be supplied to assist the experts in their tasks, and Training Centers; and Fellowships might be established to train nationals of the country in which the experts were operating and so help assure continuity to the programs and projects which were recommended.

The operation of the Fellowship Program is in the hands of a special section of the Director-General's office at FAO Hendquarters, and this section is responsible for the selection of students and arrangements for their courses of study.

Allocation of Fellowships

The funds available for the Expanded Technical Assistance Program rarely permit the grant of as many Fellowships as member countries request, and in principle they can only be awarded in the proportion of two Fellowships for every expert serving in the field. Preference is given to individuals of proved ability and a fair amount of experience in their particular field of activity. Furthermore, priority is given to those technicians who have already worked in collaboration with a particular technical assistance officer and are judged best qualified to carry on his work. The actual nomination of candidates is made by the authorities in the country concerned on the advice of ETAP experts, but the final selection rests with the Chief of the Technical Assistance Program at FAO Headquarters in consultation with the technical Division directly concerned and with the Chief of the Fellowships Section.

The ETAP expert working in a country has a personal knowledge of a candidate's; ability anti of the problems which he will be called upon to face. He is, therefore, in the best position to suggest the most profitable line of study to be pursued, anti in what countries the Fellowship holder should work in the light of his language qualifications. The length of a course may vary from several months try one year, but only in exceptional cases can it be protracted over to o or more years.

The successful candidate its first briefed either at FAO Headquarters or at a Regional Office. If possible, he discusses his work with the FAO officer specializing in the same field of activity, who will subsequently follow the man s studies anti give advice. Throughout his period of training, the Fellow is required to present monthly reports to FAO which are studied and commented on by the Division concerned. On completion of his course, he is asked to write a comprehensive report showing how the training acquirer! has application to the special problems of his own country.

Training in forestry and forest industries

A dearth of forest administrators, foresters and technicians is a marked feature of many "recipient countries" under the Technical Assistance Program. The opportunities offered by the Fellowship Program therefore answer a keenly felt need, especially where a whole development program may be in jeopardy because of the lack of certain key qualified nationals to implement the detailed recommendations of the foreign advisors. For this reason, the Forestry Division has always favored the grant of the maximum number of Fellowship vacancies available to it. In the period from 1951 through 1954, some 80 Fellowships have been awarded covering all spheres of activity connected with forestry awl forest industries.

The Fellowship Program has not, of course, been all plain sailing. There have been difficulties anti setbacks. Some courses of study have not been judiciously chosen, being too advanced or involving too much travel, or a Fellow, through language troubles or failure to adjust to strange surroundings, has not been able to profit as he should.

In spite of this, the Fellow ship Program has on the whole already yielded valuable results. FAO receives reports on what the Fellows do after returning to their own countries and these show that in large measure they are usefully contributing to economic and technical development in their own spheres of interest.

GUATEMALA. A stand of Pinus montezuma partially cleared for cultivation.

In such a long-term activity as forestry, it is of course difficult to assess results after only three years. There is, however, good evidence of the value which governments attribute to the Fellowship Program, and requests for Fellowships show no sign of abating, although the emphasis given to the various fields of specialized training is changing as the Expanded Technical Assistance Program itself tends gradually to change in emphasis.


The FAO regional forestry officer took the photograph on this page of a stand of Pinus montezuma partially cleared for cultivation. Shifting cultivation practices of this sort are responsible for the progressive destruction of the forests of the highlands of Guatemala, and for the enormous quantities of silt carried by the rivers of the country. Although laws exist that forbid shifting cultivation, it is impossible to enforce them until alternative, suitable agricultural land can be made available to the cultivators or they learn methods of increasing the yields from the land already under cultivation so as to obtain a permanent livelihood. An ETAP report to the Government of Guatemala makes recommendations as to how forest conservation and regulation of stream flow can best he promoter!.


An FAO report to the Government of Nepal on forest development recalls the past history of forest administration in that kingdom and summarizes the forest situation in the uplands. A broad stretch of country between 4,000 feet (1,200 m.) and 9,000 to 10,000 feet (2,7003,000 m.) in altitude, called the Mahabharat, runs the whole length of Nepal. The forests consist generally of a great mixture of species, chiefly oak, rhododendron, Castanopsis, poplar, walnut, Myrica, alder, Michelia, magnolia and, in parts, conifers.

In the east, the main species are Schemia, Michelia, oak, magnolia, larch and chir pine (Pinus longifolia). None of these has yet been exploited commercially. A fairly dense population practising shifting cultivation has cleared all but the inaccessible and remote parts of the forest: practically nothing remains but occasional stands and some small inferior clusters on steep slopes and rocky terrain. These forests are still of importance for supplying poles, wood for farm implements, fuelwood and forage, and for helping in soil conservation.

In the west, the main species are khail (Pinus excelsa), chir pine walnut and cedar. Since the population is less dense here, some fairly extensive forests still maintain their existence. In the upper basins of the Mahakali and Karnali rivers, there are almost virgin stands of khail and deodar mixed with walnut. Deodar is found as far east as the Gandak river (Narayani). The forests have so far been but little used except in the lower basins of the Mahakali and Karnali where the chir and deodar have been logged on a small scale in the last five years.

Parts of the vast alpine area bear some of the finest and most valuable forests in Nepal. One part the ETAP officer visited had the following succession of species: at 9,000 feet (2,700 m.), the khail at its best, with some pure 80-year old stands carrying 500 to 700 cubic meters to the hectare. Up to 10,000 feet (3,000 m.), magnificent forests of this species mixed with Picea morinda and Abies pindrow. Above that khail gradually gives way to (Cupressus torulosa and Juniperus. Of the hardwoods, oak and maple occur up to 9,500 feet (2,900 m.), and from there to the timber line birch. Above the timber line, at 13,000 to 14,000 feet (4,000-4,300 m.) in this part of the Himalayas (upper valley of the Marsyandi Khoma), the ground is so steep that there is practically no alpine pasture,

NEPAL. Alnus nepalensis likes humid sites This in an 18-year-old plantation on old terraces no longer cultivated.

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