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Twenty years on

AT QUEBEC on 16 October 1945 representatives of 42 countries met under the chairmanship of Lester B. Pearson, now Prime Minister of Canada, to sign the Constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and to hold the first session of its Conference.

It was a propitious moment to start such a venture, less than six months after the end of the second world war. The setting also was propitious - Canada, a forest nation, having more than 4,400,000 square kilometers (1,700,000 square miles) of forests giving rise to the country's most important industry and producing the most important group (30 percent) of Canada's total exports.

In November 1965, representatives of 114 Member States met at FAO's Headquarters in Rome, under the chairmanship of Maurice Sauvé, Minister of Forestry, Canada, for the thirteenth session of the Conference, and celebrated the Twentieth Anniversary of the founding of FAO.

Reviewing the world forestry situation, the Conference set down certain considerations which must determine the scale and pattern of FAO's future activities. These were:

- Since midcentury there has been a rapid acceleration of the demand for forest products, in both the developed and developing countries, which is likely to continue through the next decades. Moreover, the pattern of demand is changing. Throughout the world there is need to raise and qualitatively change forest production goals, and to revise policies to attain these goals.

- Fundamental changes taking place in geographical resource requirements relationships will require modifications in the present pattern of international trade in forest products. In particular, there will be need for a substantial expansion of forest-based industries in developing countries, to meet their own rising domestic demand and to contribute toward the deficits now appearing in certain industrialized regions.

- Greater priority is being accorded to forest and forest industry development, especially in the developing countries, precisely because these sectors can play a major role in promoting overall economic growth and present favorable opportunities for import savings and export earnings.

- The world's future needs of wood can be met, but only if current and anticipated technological advances are speedily applied. For example, while there is great scope for raising productivity in natural forests, this development will need to be augmented by man-made forests. This will require more systematic research and experimentation in tree breeding and greater attention to the hazards represented by forest pests and diseases, and fire. Similarly, forest industry technology must be adapted to facilitate the economic processing of nontraditional species, and mixtures of species and of nonwood fibrous raw materials.

- The noncrop functions (erosion control, water yield, wildlife management, amenities, recreation, tourism) of the forest are assuming increasing importance, and already exceed in importance the timber production function in many countries. There is general need for a re-examination of forest policies and for revised and updated concepts of forest management. Developed and developing countries alike look for leadership and guidance in carrying out this reappraisal to FAO which laid down over ten years ago the principles of forest policy which still today underlie most national forest policies.

- The forestry administrator today faces tasks considerably more complex than those faced by his predecessors. This is particularly true in developing countries. The number of institutions for higher forestry education responding to these changing needs is as yet insufficient. FAO is uniquely placed to interpret these changing needs, through its intimate contacts with national forest administrations, its working relations with forest industries, its awareness of the requirements of developing countries, and its contacts with, and responsibility for, many forestry educational institutions. On FAO therefore, lies the responsibility for promoting discussion and initiating action, by assisting forestry schools to transform their graduate and postgraduate training.

A cut from a 70-year-old spruce stand in southern Finland, stony waccinium type. The spruce stand had been an undergrowth under old pine and growth was very slow. It had reached an average height of only 5 meters. Treatment of the stand was: (a) dominating stand of pine felled ten years ago; (b) undergrowth spruce slightly thinned; (c) fertilization four years ago at 175 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare.

Two effects are visible: the reaction to release and thinning resulting in an increase in diameter increment, and the effect of fertilization, which is really outstanding.

(Photo, Metsalehti, Helsinki)

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