Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

The political synthesis


THE CONGRESS devoted its last series of plenary meetings to examining policy issues emerging from the reports of the commissions. This in turn enabled a consensus of opinions to be arrived at which, set out in the form of a broadly acceptable congress declaration, could provide a measure against which national forest policies might be redefined to meet the circumstances of the years ahead until the next world forestry congress.

To lead the discussion a Policy Group was nominated, designed to provide a representative selection by regions of ministers and heads of forest 'administrations most closely associated with policy at the government level.




F. EBELING (Sweden)



Y. BÉTOLAUD (France)
Latin-American Forestry Commission)
D.A. CROMER (Australia)
J.A. DICKSON (United Kingdom)
S. FUKUBA (Japan)
O. MBURU (Chairman, FAO African Forestry Commission)
A. MADAS (Hungary)
J.R. MCGUIRE (United States)
F. RUAN RUAN (Colombia)
A.P. THOMSON (New Zealand)

The members of the Policy Group first concentrated their attention on the synopsis tabled by FAO for a new version of the study Forest policy, law, and administration which the sixth World Forestry Congress had charged the Organization to prepare. The original study was written by Toni François, a long-time staff member of FAO and published in 1950. It provided, together with the Principles of Forest Policy of 1951, a frame of reference for the orientation of FAO's forestry activities as these expanded and of national forest policies.

Since then many of the forestry tenets of the past have become anachronistic. To write about new approaches to the solution of present-day problems FAO commissioned K.F.S. King, now Minister for Development in the Government of Guyana but at the time he undertook the revised work, a member of the staff of FAO's Forestry Department and of the FAO/World Bank Cooperative Programme.

The paper considered at Buenos Aires was a summary of the draft of the full study and Dr. King introduced this himself. In the debate that ensued, many interesting points were made both by members of the Policy Group and from the floor. All these were noted and will be taken into account in finishing the definitive version of the study that will in due course be published on the sole responsibility of the FAO secretariat.

The meeting next received in turn the reports of all the technical commissions of the congress. Many changes and amendments were proposed, not all acceptable. The versions finally adopted by the plenary session are those appearing in this issue of Unasylva.

From the commission reports and all the other proceedings of the congress, the material could be drawn for the Declaration of the Congress. As Dennis Craig, FAO Information Officer, put it in his last press release about the congress, "Now ... is the time for the forester ... to speak out for his beliefs. He will find willing listeners among people who previously regarded him and his work as remote ... But to do so he must become skilled in the language of the politician, the intellectual, the schoolteacher and trade unionist, as well as being versed in how to use public relations and information media."

The initial draft of the declaration was formulated by Leslie J. Vernell (FAO). This text was elaborated by lack C. Westoby (FAO) and then submitted to the Policy Group and to the plenary session for judgement. The version resulting from all this treatment was accepted by acclamation as the culminating feature of the final day of the congress, before everyone dispersed to a wonderful Argentine reception and barbecue.

Earlier, however, the last act of the third series of plenary meetings had been to consider the future, if any, of world forestry congresses.

It clearly transpired that the members of the present congress wanted world forestry congresses to continue.

Certainly there should be changes in organization and style. It was impossible, however, to be dogmatic about an event so far in the future. The organization would in any event very much depend on which country was going to play host.

A formal offer to stage the eighth congress was made by Austria, and later an invitation was also extended by Indonesia. In the light of such firm offers, the congress deferred to the Council of FAO a decision on the nature, location and timing of the next congress. The Council should be advised by its intergovernmental Committee on Forestry which, for this purpose. should be enlarged to include interested countries that were not members of FAO, for instance, at that time the People's Republic of China and the U.S.S.R.

The congress was notable for representation from over 80 countries, easily a record for any international forestry meeting so far held. This was in part made possible by the granting of fellowships by several national technical aid agencies and by the host country, Argentina.

There was strong attendance from countries which are not members of FAO, the People's Republic of China, and the U.S.S.R. Especially large groups attended from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Sweden and the United States. The latter group included three chiefs of the United States Forest Service, past and serving. The congress was happy to appoint as honorary president one of these, Richard E. McArdle, president of the fifth World Forestry Congress (1960), and similarly honoured Francisco Ortuño Medina, president of the sixth World Forestry Congress (1966).

Named as co-presidents were the heads of forest administrations in Argentina's neighbouring countries where study tours were conducted: Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

With the group from Finland was Nils Osara, former Director of FAO's Forestry and Forest Industries Division. During the congress the "Man of the Trees," Richard St. Barbe Baker, blithely celebrated his 83rd birthday.

Sadly missed was Tom Gill of the United States who devoted the greater part of his life to international forestry and was widely known throughout the world. His death earlier in 1972 indeed seemed to mark the passing of. an era in world forestry.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page