S.B. PRESTONS.B. PRESTON is Acting Dean, School of Natural Resources at the University of Michigan, U.S.A. He was formerly Chairman, Department of Wood Science and Technology at the university.
This paper, prepared for the fourth session of the FAO Advisory Committee on Forestry Education, held at Ibadan, Nigeria, 11-13 July 1969, is based on FAO studies and other reports relating to the timber industry in west Africa and on impressions gained from brief visits to university and government forestry organizations and primary and secondary wood-using industries in Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria. It is a by-product of an assignment undertaken to recommend to FAO desirable approaches to wood utilization education and research in Liberia. Although the study and site visits provided substantial insight into the subject, it should be recognized that the thoughts expressed are not the result of an exhaustive investigation of' the need for wood technology education in west Africa, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of FAO.
The need in English-speaking west Africa
FORESTRY EDUCATION in west Africa has rightly been established to train professional forest land managers as a step toward the realization of the economic and social potential of the substantial forest resources of this area. Professional foresters are clearly essential to the development of sound forest policies and their implementation, and strong educational programmes to provide these men is, and will continue to be, of the utmost importance. Further, since the products of the forests have been exported nearly exclusively in log form and the local wood-using industry is still in a primitive stage, timber enterprises - both private and public - have had little need for professional assistance beyond the function of land management and log extraction. However, as development progresses to the stage of the primary and secondary conversion of timber to manufactured products for both the export and local markets, a need arises for professionally educated personnel - wood technologists - who can work effectively in the forest products industries. It would appear that west Africa is rapidly moving into this stage of development. Yet to date no wood technology educational programmes have evolved. This paper considers the desirability of initiating such programmes and the ways in which they might logically develop.
Forestry in the broad sense is the science and art of managing forest resources to provide on a continuing basis the goods and services which society demands from them. Profitable utilization of timber is usually an essential requirement for management. In this sense, utilization may be considered a part of the management function. Yet the professional forester is usually primarily concerned with providing the raw material and not with its conversion to a product. Thus, his training is rightly largely oriented toward land management. He is frequently responsible for certain phases of the extraction of logs from the forest and he should be aware of the demands placed on wood as a raw material for the many classes of products to which it is converted. But he has little need for an expert knowledge of conversion techniques or of plant managerial sciences which make efficient manufacture possible. The demand :for people with this specialized type of knowledge has led to the evolution of the professional wood technologist.
Unlike the forest land. manager, the wood technologist is concerned with the profitable conversion of the raw materials of the forest to a very large number of products for distribution to a wide variety of markets. For a wood conversion plant to be successful, its product must be competitive in price and quality with other wood-using industries throughout the world as well as with industries using other types of raw material. The professional wood technologist is the key to maintaining this competitive position. The type of education required to equip him for this vital role is highly specialized and basically different from that of the forest land manager. Because profitable forest utilization is an essential part of forest land management, it is the responsibility of the forestry schools to provide for the education of the wood technologist. If forestry schools do not assume this role, it is probable that wood technologists will not he trained.
Wood technology is perhaps more kindred to engineering than to forestry in its function and consequently in its educational requirements. The responsibilities of the wood technologist are varied, but generally fall into the broad categories of technical control, production, distribution or research.
1. Technical control may include selection and procurement of raw material, equipment, and supplies, quality control of products, technical supervision of processes, and product development.
2. Production involves supervision of processes, departments or plants and thus requires, in addition to technological knowledge, a grasp of administrative and industrial engineering skills.
3. Distribution may be of materials, supplies, and equipment to the wood-using industry or of the products manufactured.
4. Research. In addition to wood conversion activities, wood technologists also fill research roles to develop the knowledge on which technological advances in the wood industry are based. A wood technology education must provide a basis from which specialization in any of the above areas may develop through either work experience or additional formal education.
As with engineering, professional courses in wood technology are built on a strong background in mathematics and physical sciences. Although some knowledge of biology is necessary, most types of wood conversion do not require the depth of understanding of biology that is essential to forestry. To understand the behaviour of wood and its processing, one needs a grasp of mathematics at the level of the calculus and preferably differential equations, engineering-level physics, organic and desirably physical chemistry, and a basic engineering knowledge of force systems and mechanics of materials. Superimposed on this background must be a knowledge of wood as a material, including its microscopic and submicroscopic structure and its physical, mechanical, and chemical properties and behaviour. The wood technologist needs to know the principal products made from wood, how they are manufactured, and standards pertaining to them from the standpoints of marketing and use. Of particular importance is a thorough understanding of the basic processes through which wood must pass in its conversion to the wide variety of products made from it.
Processes basic to wood conversion to all or a substantial percentage of products include machining, drying, gluing, preservation, and the application of protective and decorative coatings. Studies in depth of these subjects should constitute a substantial part of the curriculum.
In addition to these areas of knowledge, the wood technologist must have an understanding of economics and marketing principles, and should have some grounding in manufacturing methods and business administration. Cognate work in structural or mechanical engineering may also be appropriate. For effective research activities, advanced training is of course desirable, and a good knowledge of the basic sciences which are parent to the wood sciences (wood biology, wood physics, and wood chemistry) is essential.
Effective wood technology cannot be taught at the descriptive level. To teach the fundamental work in anatomical, physical and mechanical, and chemical properties and behaviour of wood, and the basic processes of machining, drying, gluing, and preservation and protection, special laboratory facilities are essential. For example, to learn the working properties of modern adhesives and their application, the bonding processes and factors that affect them, and the performance of glued wood assemblies, one must measure the properties of adhesives and make and test assemblies glued with them. This requires laboratory-size mixing and spreading equipment, hot and cold presses, instrumentation for measuring chemical and physical properties of adhesives, heat transfer, and pressure applied, and also glue-bond testing equipment and instrumentation. This equipment should be on a small scale and so designed that all factors coming into play in any gluing process in a production plant can be simulated and studied under controlled conditions. Similarly, special laboratory equipment is needed for each of the other areas of study.
It is clear from this that the teaching staff and facilities for a full programme in wood technology differ appreciably from that required for teaching the normal component of wood utilization in a forest land management curriculum. Obviously such programmes involve heavy expenditures both to initiate and to operate. The justification for their establishment in west Africa requires examination and, if desirability is indicated, the soundest approach to their development must be explored.
The extensiveness of the hardwood resource in west Africa is a matter of record. FAO statistics show clearly both an increasing world demand for wood and an increasing dependency by developed countries on developing countries for meeting hardwood requirements. Although a high percentage of this requirement is now being filled in the form of logs - and it is unrealistic to expect an abrupt decrease in log trade in favour of manufactured products - a shift toward more processing for export by developing countries is certainly occurring. In Nigeria, exports of sawn wood steadily increased from 59400 to 86700 cubic metres from 1960 to 1964 after which they declined slightly to 74300 cubic metres in 1966. During the same period, plywood exports increased from 19 100 to 30 000 cubic metres. Log exports, although fluctuating substantially, decreased from 801300 to 560 300 cubic metres. In the 1960 to 1966 period lumber exports from Ghana remained nearly constant until 1964, after which they declined slightly; plywood increased from 4 300 to 13 600 cubic metres and log shipments decreased from 1 042 000 to 476 600 cubic metres. From Ivory Coast log shipments offset the decreases from the other countries by increasing from 848 000 to 1 852 300 cubic metres. However, lumber shipped from Ivory Coast increased sixfold from 33 000 to 182 800 cubic metres.¹
¹ Expansion of exports of forest products from developing countries. Commodity report, Unasylva, Volume 22, (1 and 2), Numbers 88 and 89, FAO, Rome, 1968.
Sound arguments have been repeatedly voiced that more processing of wood close to the source of supply is in principle not only economically advantageous because of saving in shipping costs and frequently different wage structures. In addition, this method obviously permits forest resources to contribute more substantially to the economy of the country of origin. West African countries, sensitive to the economic advantages of exporting products in place of raw materials, are actively encouraging increased manufacture by tariff structures and concession policies. Moreover, the local market for forest products in the west African countries is improving and, as economic development continues, substantial increases in demand for reliable wood products is predictable, particularly in construction and furnishings. Thus, the potentiality of increased forest products manufacture appears most promising if the benefits of modern technology can be made available.
To be competitive on the world market, manufactured forest products not only must reach the consumer at an advantageous cost but additionally must be equal, or even superior, in quality to those manufactured elsewhere. Frequently, they have demands placed upon them that are rarely encountered in developing countries. For example, most of the developed countries lie in latitudes characterized by extreme temperature differences between winter and summer and consequent artificial heating and cooling of buildings of which forest products are a part or in which they are used. Although deterioration due to biological organisms is frequently not as great as in the tropics, temperature and moisture stresses are very severe. Further, the market is sophisticated and will not tolerate products that do not meet exacting specifications. Thus, an industry cannot long survive which manufactures plywood that delaminates, blackboard panels or doors that warp in manufacture or service, or kiln dried lumber for furniture manufacture that has residual drying stresses leading to warpage during processing. Dimensions must be, and remain, exact for lumber, panels or assemblies to be acceptable in modern mass production. Grades must be as specified. These are but a few examples of the many quality restrictions the world market imposes on its suppliers. They can be met only by means of technological assistance at the professional level.
If the local market for wood is to develop substantially, an appreciable input of technology will be required. To be widely acceptable as a construction material for housing, wood must be demonstrated to be economically competitive with other materials both in initial construction and future maintenance. This will require standardization of dimensions and satisfactory systems of grading lumber and plywood, acceptable drying practices, the use of chemical preservatives for protection against insects and fungi, improved design techniques, and many other applications of technology. Plywood for construction must be bonded with the technologically exacting synthetic resin adhesives, structural systems and fastenings must safely carry design loads, and the appearance of exposed parts must be acceptable and easily maintained. For furniture and cabinet work, parts must be accurately machined, assemblies must be properly designed and manufactured, and finishes must be attractive and durable. Wood technologists can be instrumental in obtaining all of these goals.
With very few exceptions, the wood-using industry in west Africa is not now benefiting from modern technology. In Liberia, for example, there is but one dry kiln and one preservative plant, both supplying a captive market. Green lumber which is poorly machined and joined is used in furniture manufacture. Lumber grading does not exist, and only large, defect-free boards not uncommonly missawn, are marketed.
The amount of waste both in the forests and in processing is excessive, and only species of export value commonly find local use. Of a sample of three large plants in Ghana, only one has lumber drying, facilities and any system of quality control. One plywood plant has an inspection system which designates sound panels for export and others which would be unacceptable to importing countries for the less demanding local market. Another plant air dries lumber for furniture manufacture, but has no standards as to the degree of drying and does not :measure moisture content. The technological basis for the development of local markets or the manufacture of secondary products for export is generally lacking. For the wood products industry in west Africa to mature, professionally educated personnel will be essential.
If it is accepted that a gradual shift toward the export of more manufactured products in place of logs is a desirable goal, and that an increased local use of more sophisticated wood products must accompany this change in export practices, then it must be concluded that means of providing wood technology education should be developed. Although there is unquestionably already a need in west Africa for people with this type of knowledge, it would be very surprising if there were currently a substantial demand for them by potential employers. As has been the case in the developed countries, the demand will develop concomitantly with the increasing sophistication of the local industry and the establishment of modern manufacturing plants for both export and locally used products.
In the developed countries, the demand for wood technologists only dates back to the second world war, when modern technology of manufacture was introduced to a significant degree to the wood using industry. Exacting technological :requirements in the fabrication of plywood, particle board, fibreboard, and composite panel products, the necessity for a high degree of process and quality control in the manufacture of mass produced furniture, prefabricated houses and building components, and keen market competition both from other segments of the wood industry and from plastics and other materials have combined to make the wood technologist indispensable. Yet the wood technologist was instrumental in attaining this state of development and thus creating the demand for himself. It is likely that the same general pattern will be followed in the developing countries. Thus, the infusion of wood technology into the industry is likely to be gradual, and this should be taken into consideration in the establishment of educational programmes.
As is implied in the previous section, it would be unrealistic to provide in the near future a substantial number of professionally-educated wood technologists and expect them to use their training immediately in west Africa. Yet is equally unrealistic to expect the wood industry to develop without technical expertise. Additionally, a wood technology curriculum is academically rigorous, requiring in general the type of mind that succeeds in engineering. It is unlikely that substantial numbers of capable young men can be recruited into a demanding curriculum leading to a profession that does not exist. Under these circumstances, how can a meaningful programme ever develop? Possibly the answer to this lies in the evolution of wood technology in the developed countries.
Using the United States as an example, wood technology was essentially unheard of until shortly before the second world war. Prior to that time, only two universities had separate programmes designed to educate wood technologists in a manner approaching what they are today. Yet the wood industries did need people with a knowledge of wood as a material and who could work effectively in aspects of products manufacture. Forestry programmes, although land management based, contained a substantial component of utilization and many people with forestry education developed interest in and professional orientation toward wood and its conversion. Thus, the industry naturally looked to the forestry schools for knowledge of the material and for manpower. Wood-testing laboratories developed in the universities and programmes oriented toward log extraction and primary manufacture evolved.
During the war, heavy demands were placed on wood as a war material, and all conceivable wood products plants converted to the manufacture of aircraft, boats, and other war products. Synthetic resins were introduced to the industry with their highly demanding technologies of use. Properly dried lumber became essential. Structurally designed wood products were in heavy demand requiring stress graded lumber and sound fastening design. In addition, methods of mass production manufacture had to be adopted and quality had to be assured. To meet these requirements, industry for the first time needed a high degree of technical assistance and turned to the industrially oriented foresters for it. Considering their inadequate educational background for such positions, they performed admirably. Crash educational programmes helped transform foresters into wood technologists to meet the emergency. In other words, modern wood technology had its birth in forestry schools.
The wood products industry learned during the war effort what technological assistance could do and demanded wood technologists after the return to the manufacture of peacetime commodities. Foresters who had been transformed into wood technologists returned to the universities to initiate special curricula to meet this demand. Most of these curricula started as options to the land management programmes but permitted a choice of more mathematics and physical sciences and special courses in wood and its processing. The graduates were still foresters, but with more than the usual amount of knowledge of wood. Some were employed in land - management functions but most entered primary and secondary conversion industries. It has only been within the past ten years that the process of evolution to distinct curricula for forestry and wood technology has generally been completed. Even today, a high percentage of the wood technologists initially enter a university to study forestry, and after starting their programme, shift to wood technology. Many get an initial degree in forestry and take advanced degree work in wood technology.
In developing wood technology in west Africa, it would appear feasible to plan the evolution of educational programmes as it has occurred in developed countries, but to benefit from the lessons learned from the natural evolution to ensure orderly and efficient progressions toward complete wood technology programmes. This approach would facilitate recruitment into utilization programmes and provide for the infusion of technology into the industry as fast as it can be accepted. Further, it would provide a cadre of technological manpower which would be essential to foreign investors considering the establishment of conversion plants in west Africa. An important additional benefit would be the introduction of wood research to the universities and the establishment of centres of knowledge of wood-related matters. Men oriented toward, and capable of, advanced degree work can be educated in preparation for specialized study in existing wood technology programmes, and a basis can be developed for expansion to full wood technology curricula when the need becomes established.
In order to pursue this line of development of wood technology education, a first logical step would be to strengthen the wood utilization course available in the two forestry schools in the universities of Liberia and Ibadan and provide for an optional programme in each of the curricula so that interested students could elect to pursue the utilization course. Inasmuch as the University of Liberia is already following the course system and the University of Ibadan plans to initiate this system, optional programmes could be realistically introduced. The curriculum could be so designed that the degree recipient would have a basic forestry education and thus be prepared for employment in forest management; in addition, he would have some depth of knowledge of wood and its processing, built on a strong background in mathematics and physical sciences. To accomplish this without increasing the length of the programme would obviously require substitution of some utilization-oriented courses for currently required forestry courses. It seems likely that careful consideration of the curriculum would reveal substitutions that could be made without seriously weakening the education for land management. In fact. the improved basic background and the increased knowledge of wood may be equally useful to the lance manager as the courses for which they are substituted.
Curricula at both forestry schools now include a fairly substantial amount of time devoted to studies of wood as a material and wood utilization. Except for studies of wood structure. however, these courses are not now supported by laboratory work and consequently are largely descriptive. The development of relatively inexpensive teaching laboratories and the redesign of existing courses to include a substantial laboratory component could significantly improve their effectiveness, both to meet the needs of all foresters and additionally to form a nucleus for the wood utilization option. Only a few new courses would have to be added.
The extent or content of subject matter which constitutes an option is a matter of judgement on which there may be many different opinions. The way the subject matter is organized and presented can vary widely and accomplish the same objectives. Also, there can be a wide variety of opinions, all backed by valid arguments, regarding the amount and content of professional courses required to qualify one as a forester. It is therefore inappropriate in this paper to attempt to specify what precisely should constitute the wood utilization option under consideration. For the purpose of discussion, however, it may be useful to suggest the content, and approximate proportion of a curriculum it would require, of an option which would approach the objectives previously under review.
Educational programmes for forestry in general are becoming more quantitative, and consequently the background in mathematics required for all foresters is becoming more advanced. It is not uncommon, however, for forestry graduates to need more mathematics if they wish to pursue further studies in wood technology. Moreover, the graduate of a forestry curriculum may not have the depth of background in physical sciences required as a basis for wood technology at the advanced level. Consequently, forestry graduates who choose to enter degree programmes in wood technology frequently lose one or two semesters in improving their background in these areas. In order to minimize this problem for graduates of the wood utilization option and to ensure depth of understanding of wood-related subjects in the option, it would appear sound to include a required knowledge of mathematics at least through an introduction to the calculus, engineering-level physics, and organic chemistry. This should be completed before the highly technical courses in the option are elected.
It is assumed that all foresters would be required to choose courses in general economics, forest economics, and in timber harvesting.
As previously indicated, a substantial portion of the option could be developed by the redesign of existing courses to increase the depth of coverage. Some of the redesigned courses could be required of all foresters and the remainder could be required only of those students following the option but could be open for choice by others. Thus, all students would benefit from the development, of the option and relatively few new courses would have to be introduced.
For consideration, the following courses are suggested, together with a summary of their context and an approximate minimum semester-hour equivalent² of time to develop each adequately.
² For the purpose of this paper, one semester hour is considered equivalent to 15 hours of lecture or 45 hours of laboratory work during a 15-week semester. Thus, a 3 - semester - hour course with laboratory, as a regular component would usually include 30 hours of lecture and 45 hours of laboratory during the semester. Normally, approximately 2 hours of assigned work in addition to the time spent in e lass or laboratory would be expected for each semester hour.
1. Primary timber industries: three semester hours. Coverage in this course would include the organization, operation, raw material requirements and marketing channels for the sawmilling, laminating plywood, particle board, fibreboard, and pulp and paper industries. Products produced for various end uses and grading principles for sawn wood and plywood would be included. Laboratory would not be a regular component but inspection tours during both the semester and vacation l periods should be involved.
2. The biology of wood: three semester hours. Included in this course would be coverage of the macroscopic, microscopic and submicroscopic structure of wood, wood identification, wood quality in relation to tree growth, and biological organisms of deterioration. Presentation may logically be divided into two lectures and one laboratory period weekly. In the laboratory, students would learn (a) methods of preparing wood slides for microscopic study, (b) to understand the cellular organization of wood through gross and microscopic study, and (c) through a systematic approach, to identify the woods of the most commonly occurring species in the country.
3. Wood behavior: four semester hours. This course should be structured to give an understanding in depth of the physical and mechanical behaviour of wood and factors affecting it, basic wood-fluid relations emphasizing wood-water relations and permeability, and chemical properties and behaviour. A logical division of class time would be three lectures and one laboratory per week. :In the laboratory, students, for example, would determine through tests the standard mechanical properties of selected species and analyse the results, measure and analyse such properties and behavioural characteristics as specific gravity, moisture content, permeability and factors influencing it, dimensional change accompanying changes in moisture content, hygroscopicity and equilibrium moisture content, heat transfer, and others. With exercises designed as simple experiments, they would also learn some research methods.
4. Basic wood processing: six semester hours. This important subject may best be presented on a two-course sequence with each semester consisting of two lectures and one laboratory weekly. Laboratory experimentation is particularly important, and this arrangement of time would provide a total of 90 laboratory hours for this purpose. The other three courses should be prerequisite to its election.
Emphasis in presentation should be on the basic processes which wood must undergo to become useful products, and not on products per se. For example machining, which is required in the manufacture of all products, is a matter of energy concentration to produce controlled failure. Thus the principles of concentrating energy with a saw tooth, planer knife, or veneer knife are kindred. It is important for the student to understand these processes and how they apply and can be controlled in various types of wood working machinery. Similarly, the processes of gluing sawnwood for laminates, veneer for plywood, or flakes for particle board are applications of basic principles, and moisture removal in drying sawnwood, veneer, and chips follows the same physical laws.
Coverage in this subject should include the principles of machinery, drying, gluing, preserving and finishing. In the laboratory, students should perform experiments which emphasize the principles as they may apply in industrial processing. For example, in studying, drying, experiments might be developed to illustrate the influence of temperature, humidity and air circulation on the rate of moisture removal from wood and the internal stresses which develop as a result of combinations of these variables. This may thus lead to the development of kiln schedules, which also could be experimentally illustrated, with students performing the experiments and measuring and analysing the results. Thus a depth of understanding of the drying process would accompany the acquisition of knowledge of kiln mechanics and operation. Other processes may be similarly treated.
The content of the above suggested option, exclusive of the background work, constitutes the equivalent time of approximately one semester of study, or in a four-year curriculum, about one eighth of the degree requirements. It would equip the student with the basic prerequisites for making a substantial technical contribution to any mechanical wood processing industry. It would also serve to identify students with special interest in and aptitude for wood technology who might advantageously study in more depth at the graduate level in existing programmer throughout the world. When the need is demonstrated it could readily be expanded to a full wood technology programme.
The University of Liberia now requires of all forestry students 12 semester hours in subjects kindred to those suggested in the option. The University of Ibadan requires forest biology, which includes materials suggested for wood biology, as one of six courses in the first of a three year curriculum, and utilization as one of six courses in the final year. Examinations must be passed on a total of 16 courses. Thus, wood utilization constitutes between 8 and 10 percent of the current curricula of these two schools. The suggested option would constitute an addition of only 2 to 4 percent to the current professional requirements in wood utilization. The principal suggested change in utilization offerings is therefore in organization of subject matter and method of presentation. Logically, all forestry students might be required to choose primary timber industries, the biology of wood, and wood behaviour, which is 10 semester hours, and be permitted to choose one or both of the courses in basic wood processing.
The option suggested could be taught by two fulltime faculty members. Inasmuch as selected courses from it could meet the requirements of the student in the forest land management option, which currently requires the services of one faculty member, initially only one additional faculty member would be needed.
Laboratory facilities to support this suggested option would be essential. These need not be expensive or elaborate, but should be carefully designed primarily to strengthen the teaching function and secondarily, but importantly, to permit initiation of wood research by faculty and students. The facilities could be housed in floor space of probably approximately 1100 square metres. Equipment and instrumentation for testing wood and measuring its physical properties, laboratory size dry kilns, preservation cylinders, plywood and laminating presses, and appropriate instrumentation are commercially available and relatively inexpensive. Laboratory design and equipment selection could anticipate elaboration as the programme develops and thus grow with the programme.
Following the establishment of optional programmes in the curriculum, a next logical step in the controlled evolution would be the development of a separate curriculum in wood technology. This could be at either the undergraduate or graduate level. It could involve expansion of the technical offerings to add separate basic courses in wood-fluid relations and wood chemistry, and to develop full courses in each of the areas of basic wood processing, machining, drying, gluing, preservation and finishing. A separate course in wood as a construction material and the design of wood structures might be considered. This expansion would require the addition of at least three more faculty members and additions to laboratory instrumentation and equipment. Gradual expansion could be planned, with the development of separate courses in the processing areas as first priority. Equally important, the land management courses should be largely replaced with work cognate to wood technology in basic sciences, mechanical and industrial engineering, economics and marketing, and business management and administration. The initially established courses, areas of faculty specialization, and supporting laboratory facilities could lead logically to an expanded programme in an efficient manner.
A most important additional benefit of the introduction of this type of programme would be to hasten the establishment of the forestry schools as centres of knowledge of wood and its processing. Although government laboratories should eventually assume this role, they will for many years to come be dependent upon the universities for much research, personnel and frequently leadership. It is unlikely that government laboratories can ever become significant factors in tire improved use of wood without close association with university programmes. Further, the universities can work most effectively in direct contact with industry in helping to introduce and use wood technology.
The FAO Advisory Committee on Forestry Education discussed this paper and another entitled "Training for forest industries and timber marketing" by S.D. Richardson (see Unasylva Volume 23 (2), Number 93). These documents were discussed together because they represented two alternative approaches to the development of training facilities for forest industries and marketing, with particular reference to west Africa. Although the geographical scope of the documents was limited and west Africa had been selected in view of the abundant information readily at hand, the committee considered that its discussion would provide preliminary guidance to FAO in tackling the subject of education for forest, industries generally.
The committee came to the conclusion that this matter needed much further consideration but, in the meantime, the discussion had already established that education for forest industries and timber marketing deserved priority attention by FAO on the same footing as education for forest land management. It also considered that there was no reason why training facilities for forest industries should not be established in the developing regions themselves, provided that demand was sufficiently urgent - perhaps through projects serving a number of neighbouring countries, to justify the considerable equipment costs.
Important points emerging from the discussion were:
1. There is a need to distinguish between primary (logging and sawmilling) and secondary (veneer, panels, and pulp and paper) processing industries and the corresponding need for different types of training.
2. Overseas training for forest industries is less relevant to developing countries at the technical than at the professional level. National or regional training facilities at the technical level should therefore be established in the developing countries.
3. At the professional level there is no single golden road for preparing wood technologists. Training at this level should be viewed in the general context of economic development, and job opportunities must also be taken into consideration.
The committee recommended the introduction of an internationally recognized Certificate in Forest Products Technology or similar qualification, thereby creating minimum training standards for all the forest industries, irrespective of specialization. In conjunction with the other competent international agencies, FAO should attempt to establish suitable curricula and examination standards in the context of one English-speaking and one French-speaking African country - as a pilot measure.
There were a number of other recommendations. For instance, in recognition of the importance of special training at the technical level in order to improve the efficiency of the wood-using industries, the committee recommended that the availability of training at technical schools in the different developing countries be evaluated with a view to supplementing such education as required as soon as possible.
The possibility should be investigated of establishing a forest industries technology centre at a university in west Africa for regional training of professionals in timber technology and the marketing of forest products. The committee recommended in the meantime the training of professionals at universities in industrialized countries and the provision of financial aid to provide fellowships for this purpose.
The committee further recommended that FAO undertake an assessment of vocational training facilities in Africa, including apprenticeship schemes, with the purpose of evaluating their relevance to forest industries.