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In the present decade, with world attention focussed on development, there is a need for concerted efforts to provide a complete picture of the resources available for a steadily growing population. The 1963 World Forest Inventory takes its place as part of this endeavour. It is the latest in the series undertaken in accordance with the recommendation of the Conference of FAO, made at its sixth session in 1951, that the Organization should, at five-year intervals, collect and publish available information on the world's forest resources. Such world-wide stocktaking of these resources is an essential basis for their rational development. Forests cover nearly a third of the world's land area, but they are very unevenly distributed and their potential usefulness varies greatly. They range from arctic tundra to equatorial swamp forest, from desert scrub to mountain rain-forest, from homogeneous plantations to luxuriant jungles. Their uses run from providing raw material for a growing variety of industries to yielding poles and firewood for domestic consumption, from regulating the water régime or the local climate to protecting wild-life and satisfying recreational needs. For the optimal management of so vast a resource with such varied uses, detailed information is needed on the world's forest; on areas and growing stock, on composition and productivity and on the existing pattern of ownership and management. Comparability of such information between countries is essential if national forest policies are to be co-ordinated in response to the growing inter-dependence of all countries. It is against this background that the present publication should be viewed.


A number of changes make this World Forest Inventory different from its predecessors. Underlying these changes was the need to extend the enquiry to areas of forest not hitherto covered, to gain some idea of the level of significance of information furnished and to obtain more detailed information on certain important topics. As far as possible, comparability with previous enquiries has been maintained, but the reader should be careful in making such comparisons. The following remarks should make clear the nature and importance of the changes.

The progress of forest surveys in recent years, aided by aerial photography, by the computer, by improved sampling techniques, and by new instruments for tree measurement, has made available much information on forests not yet in use. Similarly, progress in legislation has brought within the realm of forest policy even areas which are not at present easily accessible. Inevitably, such progress has been very different in various countries, but it was considered sufficiently important to justify extension of the enquiry to areas not now in use or accessible. The inventory questionnaire requested data on the ownership, management and silviculture of all forest land, and on the density, composition, growing stock and annual growth of all forest (excluding that in which all industrial cutting is prohibited). To maintain comparability with previous inventories, data was also requested on the density, composition, growing stock and annual growth of “forest in use”. The concept of “accessible forest” has, however, been abandoned, since neither economic nor physical accessibility can be defined sufficiently simply and clearly for the purposes of an enquiry of this nature.

This extension in scope, to forest which is often very imperfectly known, called for additional safeguards against amalgamating information of different levels of significance. A distinction has been introduced between data derived “from inventory results or systematic forest surveys based on measurement of sample plots” and estimated data “on forest not covered by inventories or systematic surveys, but about which some information is available through one or other method of extensive reconnaissance”. The percentage of data derived from inventory has been indicated throughout the tables of density, composition and growing stock.

An important new question asked in the 1963 enquiry was the area of “unstocked forest land”, defined as “lands from which forests have been clear-cut or burned, but which will be reforested in the foreseeable future” and “lands not suitable for bearing tree cover by their nature, e.g. forest roads, small rivers and small water areas”. It was considered desirable to know how large these areas were and to subtract them from the area to be reported on in the enquiry into density, composition and growing stock.

A second new feature in the enquiry was the request for a breakdown of all coniferous, non-coniferous and mixed forest into three broad volume-per-hectare categories: forest of less than 50, of 50 to 150, and of more than 150 m3/ha. This was considered necessary for a first approximation of the quantitative composition of the forest. It was hoped moreover to give added dimension to crown-density and growing-stock data. The information was to be supplemented by a similar breakdown of “young and immature stands”, to indicate the extent to which low volumes resulted from immaturity as opposed to poor growing conditions.

Having appreciated the size of the task undertaken in this enquiry, together with some of its difficulties, the reader will be in a better position to appreciate the information contained in the World Forest Inventory 1963.


The information that became available in this fifth world enquiry shows a distinctly different pattern compared with that obtained in the third and the fourth. The number of countries completing the questionnaire was somewhat lower than in 1958 (105 as against 130, a decrease of 19% in number). In fact, the decrease in forest area covered by direct response is only about 5%, as most of the non-replying countries have very little forest. This slightly reduced response is not entirely unexpected. It is at least partly accounted for by temporary strains on administration in countries gaining their independence.

On the other hand, many countries with significant forest resources have an increased amount of detailed and better specified information. Moreover, more information has become available as country reports to FAO Regional Forestry Commissions have gained in coverage, and documentation provided by inventory experts working on special assignments has increased considerably. Nevertheless, this information was not always directly useful in the enquiry because of the different structures which are adopted.

The more complex form of this enquiry brought an improvement in the internal consistency of the information obtained, and this increased detail brought to light significant differences not only between data of different countries, but also between 1963 and 1958 data. In back-checking with countries, the answers sometimes revealed that the 1958 data were by now considered invalid, a fact which should be kept in mind when making straight comparisons between the data given in the basic tables of this volume, and those of 1958. It should of course not be concluded that the results of the 1958 and 1963 enquiries are not comparable, but the fact needs to be stressed that the large differences for some countries result more from better knowledge about the forests, or stricter application of definitions, than from effective changes in the forest resources.

On the whole, the changes in the scope of the enquiry yielded results beyond expectations. However, not all of them fitted in equally well with forest inventory data available in individual countries. Also, as already observed in earlier enquiries, there is a tendency for countries with detailed inventory information to be more reluctant to furnish derived figures than certain countries where systematic surveys are still in a less advanced stage. This very understandable concern with accuracy even induced some countries to prefer to withhold data rather than provide derived information which they considered too approximate compared with their inventory data. It also led many countries to give derived figures as “estimated” rather than “inventoried”, though in fact based on inventories as defined above. In some cases, where the national inventory structure differs widely from that of the World Forest Inventory, the resources needed to convert data into the form requested - sometimes a considerable task - could not be made available in time. For all these reasons information shown in this volume is for some countries less comprehensive than that contained in their own inventory publications. Certain data are shown in the “Notes on Countries and Regions”, where they cannot be fitted into the main tables, and information in the latter has often had to be qualified by footnotes. These many notes, while tending to make reading and interpretation more difficult, are necessary for adequate presentation.

In view of the incompleteness of the data on some subjects regional and world totals are not in every case included in the statistical tables, though extracted for use in the analysis that follows. Similarly, certain totals have been adjusted in the light of information which indicated special applications of concepts by some countries. Such adjustments are explained in the “Notes on Regions and Countries”. All data, whether derived from questionnaires, official statistics or from reports by experts, are referred to as “reported data”. In the analyses references are frequently made to more industrialized regions (North America, Europe, USSR, Pacific Area) and less industrialized regions (Latin America, Africa, Asia). It should be noted that this classification is made for the context of this volume and represents only a broad generalization about the overall degree of industrialization in the regions.


Forest Land and Forest

Readers of the 1953 and 1958 World Forest Inventories will recall that the definition of “forested land”, which corresponds almost exactly with that of “forest land” used in this inventory, was very wide, and included unspecified areas of land from which forest had been clear-cut or burnt. The 1963 enquiry has shown to a considerable degree the extent of these unstocked areas and makes it possible for the first time to estimate the amount of forest in the world, excluding them. The results were unexpected: many countries reported very large areas of forest land, up to 50%, as unstocked. It appears that reforestation “in the foreseeable future” is intended in many areas which are likely to remain without forest for some decades. Some countries also included land that has not previously borne forest, but is planned for afforestation, or even land administered by the forest service but not likely ever to bear trees: these categories should be classed as non-forest land by the definitions used in this inventory. Table 1 shows the areas of forest, assuming that the unstocked forest land to be subtracted in each region forms the same proportion of forest land as in the reporting countries of that region. The new information shows that, while the area of forest land in the world is much the same as shown in the 1958 World Forest Inventory, about 4,100 million ha., the area of forest is probably about 3,800 million ha.

Included in forest is a vegetation type which is forest only in a very broad sense, and whose area is now reported on for the first time: land (other than agricultural) with a crown density of only 0.05 to 0.09. In previous enquiries countries were only asked what area of this very open woodland was included in forest in use. The 1963 enquiry extended the question to all forest and the replies give some indication, varying in value from region to region, of the overall extent of these areas (see discussion on crown density, below). They would appear to account for about 100 million ha. of the world's forest, with approximately 50 million ha. lying in Africa.

A class of forest that is of secondary importance in inventory work is forest protection reserves in which all industrial cutting is prohibited. These being legally protected, are unlikely ever to contribute to forest production, though they are most important for the other benefits they confer upon mankind. They were therefore subtracted from the forest area on which data on crown density, composition, growing stock and annual growth were requested. World estimates for these protection reserves are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 - Land categories
Million ha.

RegionForest landForest (estimate)Land area
North America  750  710  29010  187538
Central America    76    71    20  -    27226
South America  890  830  51020  176047
Africa  710  700  40020  297024
Europe  144a  138       16a   1        47129
U.S.S.R.  910a  738   a  28a 10      214434
Asia  550  500  16010  270019
Pacific Area    96    92    40  4    84211
  More industrial19001678  37425  533232
  Less industrial22262101109050  770227

a Reported data.

The important question of areas of unproductive forest was extended to all forest. Countries were asked to apply their own definition, guided by broad indications in the questionnaire. The response was good, showing that many countries have estimates of the unproductive area. It is clear that these estimates represent a range of different concepts, from any forest that is not now in use to forest that is never likely to be in use in foreseeable circumstances. However, all figures for unproductive forest must represent areas which are at present unproductive and it is therefore felt that meaningful indications can be derived from them (see Table 1). About 40% of the world's forest appears to fall into this category (50% in the less industrialized regions and 20% in the more industrialized). Future enquiries may ascertain how much of this currently unproductive forest is likely to remain always unproductive, and thus give an idea of its potential economic development, which may be very substantial in view of the large areas involved.

The importance of forestry development in the less industrialized regions is made still clearer by comparing their area of forest per caput, 0.9 ha., with that of the more industrialized, 1.9 ha. Such comparisons however do not justify an alarmist interpretation, since areas of forest are less important than other features such as composition and growth rate. What is alarming is the rate at which, because of increases in population, the amount of forest per caput is declining. Table 2 compares the figures for 1963 with those for 1958 (see also Diagram C). The problem is gravest in the less industrialized regions. Asia in particular, with more than half the world's population, is already poorly endowed with forest and can ill afford any further reduction in forest area per caput. Since the trend in population is likely to continue for some considerable time, great efforts are evidently needed both to increase the productivity of existing forest and to afforest suitable areas with fast-growing species.

Table 2 - Area per caput

ForestForest landForested land
North America3.43.83.8
Central America  0.971.01.4
South America5.35.77.3
Europe  0.32  0.33  0.34
Asia  0.28  0.30  0.32
Pacific Area5.45.76.5
  More industrial1.92.12.2
  Less industrial  0.90  0.951.1


The inventory provides fairly comprehensive information on the ownership status of the world's forest land. Reports on 3,100 million ha. (giving a coverage a of 75%) show 77% to be publicly and 23% privately owned. The proportions of these two categories in different countries and regions naturally reflect social-economic systems, and some caution is necessary in examining totals. For example, in Europe as a whole 47% of forest land is publicly owned, but the average in Eastern Europe is 94%, against 34% in Western Europe. Similarly the Asian figure is strongly influenced by the absence of private ownership in China (Mainland).

Table 3 - Ownership of forest land

%Million ha.%Million ha.%%
North America87476731735657
Central America62  2145  26560
South America69341562692754
Africa4025079  682286
Europe99  6747  779945
U.S.S.R.100   910100      -100  100  
Asia5628392  255793
Pacific Area86  2126  622760
 World752369   777004680

There are some significant differences from the data in the 1958 World Forest Inventory, though it must be remembered that the latter referred only to accessible forest. For example, improved coverage of North America shows public ownership to be considerably more extensive than previously indicated. The very large increase in coverage in Central America, on the other hand (from 5% to 62% of forest land), has brought out the importance of private ownership. A similar increase in the Pacific Area shows that a lower proportion of forest land is publicly owned there than in any other region.

The most important feature of these data is that they establish the preponderance of public ownership in the world as a whole. Even if half of the remaining forest land, on which data is not yet available, proved to be privately owned, this would still leave 70% in public hands. It may therefore be valuable in future enquiries to direct more attention to the details of public ownership.

As regards the details of private ownership, the new data show no significant changes. The information on farm forests shows them to be less important than they seemed, presumably because none of the “inaccessible forest”, on which data have now been collected, is owned by farms. This explanation, however, does not apply to Europe, where virtually all forest was considered “accessible”, and where farm forests are now said to account for 35% instead of 55%, of privately owned forest land. The percentages in other regions are 40% in North America, 20% in Africa, and negligible in the remainder. Ownership by industry is not shown to have increased since 1958, and in fact the figures show too many differences from previous ones to allow any generalization to be made. An area of information that has further to be explored is the size distribution of forest holdings - a factor of considerable importance in private ownership, and also in public ownership other than by the State.

a Coverage, in this text and in the accompanying tables, is defined as the percentage of forest land (or of forest, where appropriate) for which data are reported. Coverage for 1958 data is the percentage of all forest land or forest covered (and not merely that of forest in use or accessible forest).

Management Status

Previous World Forest Inventories have shown only one category of forest management - working plans. In the new enquiry attention was directed towards the management status of forest land without working plans. Countries were asked about the area in which other methods of management control are applied: exploitation limited by legal provisions (e.g. imposition of size limits or cutting licenses) or contractual provisions (where a concession contract provides rules to control exploitation). The results, with very comprehensive coverage, show a completely new picture of forest management in the world. As will be seen from Table 4, large areas are covered by forms of management other than working plans. In certain regions, notably South America, Africa and Pacific Area, these are now seen to be overwehlmingly more widespread than working plans. From their importance in the more industrialized regions, it is clear that these methods have an important place in developed forest economies. Table 5 presents data on the area under concession agreements in a few countries where this is particularly extensive. On a world scale, however, these agreements cover a very small proportion, 4%, of the total area under contractual and legal management control. This may partly be because forest under concession agreement is almost :always the subject of legislation, so that it may in some cases have been reported as under “legal” rather than “contractual” management.

Table 4 - Management status

 Region1963 (Forest)1958 (Forest in use)
 CoverageWorking plansLegal and contractualOther forests CoverageWorking plans
% Million ha. %Million ha.
North America1285    -    -26  40
Central America71  7   (2)   ..15    2
South America6710105445  9    3
Africa6113  8737514  16
Europe9762  69    395  66
U.S.S.R.100   300   438    -86312
Asia3559  59  5543100
Pacific Area99  7  45  3721    9
 World61570   80591535548

Statements on the progress of working plans since 1958 must be made with extreme caution, as is shown in the regional analysis that follows. Outside the Americas, the data of which need special attention given below, there has been a decrease in the area said to be under working plans in all regions, from 503 to 441 million ha., in spite of a great increase in coverage. This seems to indicate that large areas, in 1958 included in the area managed under working plans, were in fact under other forms of management. The request for information on the latter has clarified the meaning of the earlier figures. This is particularly evident in the case of the USSR and Europe, where the coverage did not change substantially, and where management is now seen to extend to 870 million ha. of forest, of which 360 million ha. are under working plans. It is also clearly the case in Africa and the Pacific, where, however, the coverage has increased very much. The figures for Asia require qualification. No information was received from Indonesia and Burma, which together reported 135 million ha. of forest in 1958, of which 25 million under working plans. Furthermore, Thailand reported this time that the 19 million ha. classified as under working plans in 1958 are in fact submitted to other forms of management. The decline in the working plan area in all these regions is thus seen to be only apparent.

The data on working plans in North America refer only to publicly owned and industry-owned forest in the USA. The 1958 figure referred only to Canadian forest in use. It can be assumed that, in the region as a whole at least 130 million ha. are now under working plan. For Central and South America the large difference in coverage rather invalidates direct comparisons between 1958 and 1963 data on working plans.

This region by region analysis of the reported data, supplemented by conservative assumptions on the forest areas on which information was provided only in 1958, gives sufficent basis for affirming that in 1963 exploitation is under some form of management control on about 1,500 million ha. of the world's forest (almost 50% of that on which information is available), of which about 650 million ha. are under established working plans.

Table 5 - Management control by concession agreement

Selected countriesArea 1000 ha.As % of legal and contractual
British Honduras  302  20
Congo (Brazzaville)1000    6
Ghana2849  70
Japan12554    83
Liberia  648  26
Nigeria  762100
Philippines3273  70
Surinam1285  81
Thailand12033    53
Zambia6070  60

Crown Density and Composition

So far in this analysis only forest policy has been considered. It is in considering data on the physical character of the world's forest that the advantage of the extended scope of the new inventory becomes really striking. It now begins to be possible to form an outline picture of the whole of this enormous natural resource. The coverage, though still far from complete, shows a considerable advance on that of 1958, when only forest in use was considered: from 7% to 55% for crown density, from 37% to 68% for composition, from 35% to 55% for growing stock. Considering it was the first time this extended scope was used, these results are very encouraging, and further improvements may be expected as countries become more familiar with it.

Table 6 - Crown density

RegionCoverageGoodMediumPoorVery poor
North America27543016-
Central America132944189
South America707219  9-
U.S.S.R.100   156025-
Pacific Area55473914-

The extension of our knowledge is particularly noteworthy in the case of crown density, but as will be seen from Table 6, it affects some regions much more than others, and a great deal of inventory work remains to be done. For the three regions with high coverage, South America, Europe and USSR, it is clear that “poor” forest is of only secondary importance, while “very poor forest” is reported only in Europe, more than four-fifths of it in two countries, perhaps reflecting local conditions. In the case of the Pacific Area, a study of country reports suggests that most of the forest not yet covered may prove to be either “good” or “very poor”. For the remaining regions it is too early to generalize, since information has been supplied by only a certain number of not necessarily representative countries. The data for Africa, however, drawn from 23 countries situated in all parts of the continent, tend to indicate that about 40% of its forest may be “poor” and “very poor”.

Table 7 shown the reported data on composition, covering 68% of the world's forest. The figures for mixed forest are all under-estimates, since in each region where these occur, some countries include all areas of mixed forest in coniferous and non-coniferous forest, according to which species predominate. Nevertheless, sufficent evidence has been assembled to allow useful estimates of the total coniferous and non-coniferous areas to be made for most regions. Available data for Central America and Asia, however, still leave a considerable margin of uncertainty.

Table 7 - Composition

RegionReported dataOverall estimates b
%Million ha.Million ha.
North America61237  138(58)  700  440260
Central America21  3  11..    71    35  36
South America70  3459(17)  810    10800
Africa62  4454-  680      4676
Europe100   73  51(13)  137    80  57
U.S.S.R.100   553  175-  728  553175
Asia4541162  (8)  490    90400
Pacific Area76  3  62  (2)    88      4  84
 World68917  1512  (98)370412162488  
  More industrial    16531077576
  Less industrial    2051 1391912  

a Includes unspecified areas of mixed forest (see Table III).
b Includes all mixed forest.

Of the world's forest about one third is coniferous. Its main location being the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, the USSR with 45% and North America with 36%, dispose together of more than 80% of the world's coniferous forest. Another 7% are situated in Europe and the Pacific Area, and all the less industrialized regions together only dispose of 140 million ha., slightly more than 10% of the world total.

Broadleaved forest, roughly 2,500 million ha., or two thirds of the world's forest, has a very different distribution. Slightly less than a quarter is situated in the more industrialized regions. The main bulk, about 1,900 million ha., lies in the less industrialized regions, but is unevenly distributed. South America and Africa (more specially West and Central Africa) together account for more than three quarters and the remainder is found mainly in South East Asia.

Growing Stock

Table 8 and Diagram B present the reported data, which now cover 55% of the world's forest area. It should be remembered that these data cover most coniferous forest, so that future reports are unlikely to add much to the world total of coniferous growing stock, whereas considerable standing volumes of non-conifers remain to be reported on. Moreover, since three quarters of the coniferous data are already derived from inventory, further progress is likely to be in the direction of improved detail rather than of striking changes of the overall volume figures. Most of the non-coniferous data, on the other hand, come from survey estimates, so that a great deal of work has still to be done on them. This is simply a reflection of the fact that most coniferous forest, as mentioned above, lies in the more industrialized regions, where growing-stock data are very comprehensive and where most such data are derived from inventory, while most non-coniferous forest lies in regions where the reverse is true. If proof still needs to be given, these observations indicate the importance of the general effort of resource appraisal which is to be undertaken in the less-developed countries.

Table 8 - Growing stock
1000 million m3 including bark

 Inv. a Inv. a
 %  % %
North America6244.33(42)11(59)
Central America14    0.8    0.235     0.654
South America5178    0.5  177  5
Africa12    3.8    0.122     3.7  7
Europe9812    7.661     4.359
U.S.S.R.100   7966100   13100  
Asia4517    6.0501120
Pacific Area70    3.8    0.4..     3.4..
 World55238   114   77124   24

a Percentage of data derived from inventory.

A glance at the regional totals shows the enormous forest wealth of three regions, North and South America and the USSR. Inventory coverage in the latter extends to all forest. The figure for South America is largely based on estimates provided by experts working in the area, but even so is an important indication. The other five regions together account for only one-seventh of the total of reported data, partly because of poor coverage. The Asian figure must be treated with particular caution, since it excluded the growing stock of several countries with dense tropical forest (Burma, Indonesia, Malaya). The statistical weakness of this figure is illustrated by the fact that it is about 20% lower than that given in the 1958 Inventory, which referred to an approximately equal area.

The information obtained through this enquiry on the world's growing stock is usefully supplemented by the data giving the average growing stock per ha. for the forests of the world and the different regions (see Table 9). As they have been derived from the reported total volume data of the growing stock, they inherit the same statistical weaknesses. Nevertheless, where interpreted with due caution, they provide interesting indications of the comparative orders of magnitude.

Table 9 - Growing stock
m3/ha including bark

Region1963 (Forest)1958 (Forest in use)
 %   %   
North America62100  1059056100  135  60
Central America14807085  48565100  
South America51185  140  190  19125  170  120  
U.S.S.R.100   110   120  7563105  125  70
Asia459085904590110  90
Pacific Area7060945823655070

Comparing the data for 1963 with those of 1958 (which referred to forest in use) it is interesting to note an increase in the volume per hectare reported in the non-coniferous forest of North America, Europe, and the USSR. These figures are derived to a considerable extent from inventory and have good coverage, so that the increases may well be significant. Amongst possible explanations, the least plausible would be that forest in use represents less well stocked areas than that not in use. It may be that improving utilization allows more species to be included in growing stock surveys in certain countries, but one is also led to consider whether modern inventory methods are showing the stocking to be better than hitherto accepted.

As in the case of the total volume figures, the data for South America stand out. Estimates for the tremendous Brazilian forests have become available and show once again their great potential wealth. The information for Africa and Asia on the other hand is based on a low coverage and probably underestimates the real values.

The new inventory has for the first time gathered information on the breakdown of the forest area into volume-per-hectare categories. In most regions these data are too sparse for totalling, but those of Europe cover 65% of the forest area and are worth studying. They are set out in Table 10 and indicate clearly the much poorer stocking of the non-coniferous forest, nearly half of which carries less than 50 m3/ha. Nearly half of the coniferous forest, on the other hand, falls between 50 and 150 m3/ha. It is clear that information of this kind is of great value, and will help, with extended coverage, to build up a more detailed picture of the world's forest.

In conclusion, it may be stated that the 1963 World Forest Inventory marks a great step forward in our knowledge of the growing stock of the world's forest. Inevitably the question arises: is it possible to arrive at an estimate of the total growing stock? Piecing together carefully all the data obtained, examined in the light of their statistical validity, and with as background the broad knowledge available from the reports of inventory experts on areas not covered in this publication, what might be called a “substantiated” guess can now be hazarded as to this total, which would be of the order of 340,000 million m3, of which about 135,000 conifers and 205,000 non-conifers.

Table 10 - Volume distribution, Europe
(Coverage 65%)

 Area with
 less than 50 m3/ha.50 – 150 m3/ha.more than 150 m3/ha.
 Million ha.
Non-conifers1412  6

Annual Growth and Allowable Cut

Information on annual growth remains very incomplete for most regions. It is a difficult quantity to measure, calling for considerable resources both for the collection of field data and for their statistical processing. Consequently, efforts are often expended mainly on surveys of the increment of selected areas of particularly valuable forest-surveys whose results cannot easily be extended to the rest of a country's forest. A further obstacle to regional analysis is that certain countries give figures only for gross increment, certain others only for net increment. The latter concept is in any case not usefully applied to unexploited forest in equilibrium, where net growth is by definition zero. For these reasons it is considered too early to make useful regional or world generalizations, though the data on individual countries published in Tables IV and V are valuable, and can, treated with due caution, be a most useful basis for specific comparisons between countries.

Information was requested on allowable cut, defined as the total amount of roundwood which can be cut during a year on the basis of the established national forest policy. A considerable number of countries supplied data, but these presented many difficulties. The time period to which they relate varies widely from country to country. For example, some countries give actual average volumes of annual removals over recent years, others give projected averages for longer or shorter future periods, while others combine past averages with projections into the future. The area basis is also very variable, ranging from all forest to only, for example, state-owned forest or plantations. A final difficulty is that some countries exclude certain categories of removals, such as fuelwood, from their estimates of allowable cut. In view of all the qualifications necessary for evaluation of the data, it is felt that comparison between countries can best be made on the basis of their detailed national statistics. It is evident that harmonization of the basic concepts is required, before international compilation of data on allowable cut can provide results with higher coverage and comparability.

Utilization of Forest Resources

Removal statistics have always been less satisfactory than other forest products statistics, since some of the removals always go unrecorded, or are destined for local or immediate consumption and do not enter the industrial production cycle. The data are thus often rather incomplete and subject to repeated revision. Therefore, a three-year average (1960–62) has been published in the statistical tables of this inventory, and has been used as the basis of the present roundwood production appraisal. The results are summarized in Table 11.

Table 11 - Removals (Annual average 1960–1962)

Region AllIndustrial woodFuelwood
 Million m3(r) without bark
North America394295  99348283  65  46  12  34
Central America  43  11  32       7.1       4.7       2.4  36       6.3  30
South America181  26155  26       9.6  17155  17138
Africa196       4.0192  22       2.4  20174       1.6172
Europe323188135223171  52100  17  83
U.S.S.R.358392  66257226  31101  66  35
Asia380107273122  61  61258  46212
Pacific Area  25       6.9  18  16       6.4       9.4       9.2       0.5       8.7
 World1900   9309701021  763258879167712
  More industrial1100  782318844686158256  96160
  Less industrial800148652177  77100623  71552

In 1960–62 world removals averaged about 1,900 million m3 annually, of which more than 1,000 million m3, or 54% was recorded as being for industrial use, leaving a fuelwood production of nearly 900 million m3. About four fifths of all fuelwood removals are accounted for by the less industrialized regions, and the same proportion of them consists of non-coniferous species.

Comparing the fuelwood production data with the population figures of these two groups of regions, no significant difference emerges in per caput production, about 3 m3/caput for the more industrialized and 2.7 m3/caput for the less industrialized regions, though for those with the highest GNP per caput, North America and Europe, the figure is only about 2 m3/caput. What is noticeable, however, is that much more broadleaved species are used for fuelwood, than coniferous, independent of the level of economic development: even in the more industrialized regions whose forest resources are two thirds coniferous, fuelwood removals are two thirds broadleaved. Availability seems to be a dominant factor, as can be expected for a product which is bulky and has a low value/weight ratio, and it is interesting to compare the per caput consumption data with the available forest per caput, which is twice as high in the more industrialized as in the less industrialized regions. Even if fuelwood removals also take place from trees outside the forest this shows how intensively these scarce resources are utilized for this purpose in the less industrialized regions.

As to the removals of roundwood for industrial use, naturally this is closely related to the level of industrialization and the utilization of the available forest resources. However, analysis of the present utilization of forest resources in the world reveals some most interesting points. Unlike fuelwood removals which are predominantly broadleaved, industrial wood removals are about 75% coniferous and 25% broadleaved. However, they occur mainly in the more industrialized regions, where these removals amount to roughly 875 million m3 (86% of the world total), while those for the less industrialized amount only to about 145 million m3 (14%). This 86%-14% ratio is significantly different from the ratio of forest areas existing in the two groups of regions under review which is 45% for the more and 55% for the less industrialized regions.

The situation is shown graphically in Diagram D. Utilization of the broadleaved forest resources in the industrialized regions and of the coniferous resources in the less industrialized regions is roughly proportional to their availability (15% and 4% respectively). However, a tremendous disparity appears when looking at the utilization of the coniferous resources in the more industrialized regions, where less than 30% of the world growing stock provides more than 70% of the world production of industrial roundwood, whereas more than half of the world's total broadleaved growing stock situated in the less industrialized regions provides only a tenth of the world production of industrial roundwood. Though this huge difference in degree of utilization of the available forest resources has long been known, the results of the present inventory provide a new and more accurate tool to assess the tremendous inequality of development in different parts of the world and stress the large possibilities offered in the field of forestry for the development of the less industrialized regions.


This inventory may, despite all its gaps and deficiencies, not fall too far short of the goal for which it was undertaken: to provide an overall view of the world's forest resources at the beginning of this decade. It has built up a far more comprehensive picture than was known before, but shows pointedly and repeatedly the enormous effort still necessary to improve our knowledge of the world's forests and of some of the serious dangers that may soon have to be faced.

Certain themes stand out in the analysis of the results, largely related to the distribution and utilization of the world's forest. Important imbalances already pointed out by the previous 1953 and 1958 inventories have been brought into increasingly sharp focus. In the more industrialized parts of the world those countries with large forest resources are utilizing them to a steadily increasing extent both by intensifying their utilization and by extending it to new areas. In those with proportionally less abundant forest resources the same pattern seems to prevail, though with different emphases. These regions moreover have almost nine tenths of the world's coniferous forest, with its relative homogeneity which facilitates management and utilization. In the less industrialized regions the utilization of the forest resources is intensive for the production of fuelwood, a basic requirement for people with a low standard of living. But the industrial utilization of their impressive resources, mainly tropical broadleaved forests, is still extremely low and offers vast opportunities for industrial production, if the necessary infrastructure, capital and technological skill can be combined to make these potential resources contribute to a rapid improvement of the standard of living of these regions.

It is on a world level that this inventory contains a most serious warning. Changes in world forest resources are slow and there is in fact insufficient evidence to assert that the present plantation programmes are making serious headway against the destructive pressures exerted on the forest by a fast-growing population. Over a five-year period this progress, if any, is small compared with increase in population. Over the period 1958–1963 the increase in the world population was 10.9%, but again it was very unequal: 6.6% in the more industrialized regions against 12.7% in the other regions. There is no factual evidence that this rate of increase will in the near future decrease substantially. The implications are not limited to wood production. The importance of the protective role of forest needs hardly to be stressed. Scarcity of forest may have a damaging effect on the local climate, and may irreversibly destroy the equilibrium of the soil and water regime, with disastrous consequences for economic and social conditions.

This does not imply that all existing forests should be considered sacrosanct: they are not if they do not provide the optimal contribution to the communities they have to serve. But it does mean that any deforestation should be allowed only as a part of improvement and intensification of land use. Immediate enactment of a dynamic forest policy with vastly intensified afforestation programmes, and a worldwide effort to step up the utilization level of the rich tropical forest resources seem imperative to avoid a world with the vast majority of its population living in conditions of increasing wood shortage.

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