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The world of forestry

Wood-based panels world consultation to be held in India
Totally closed white-water system in a fibreboard mill
Collecting firewood in Niger
United States: Youth for conservation
ATIBT in Abidjan: Industries and trade group looks to its resources
A British society changes its name
North American quarantine requirements
Libya: Lessons in sand dune fixation and afforestation

Wood-based panels world consultation to be held in India

The Government of India, in collaboration with FAO, will a World Consultation on Wood-Based Panels in New Delhi, 6 to 16 February 1975.

In announcing the meeting FAO noted that developments in the technology and production of wood-based panels since the last consultation a decade ago in Rome have been considerable, making it necessary for governments and industries to take a fresh look at the role these products now play in the economy of both developed and developing regions.

The consultation will review developments in processing technology, raw materials supply, marketing problems, investment opportunities, research needs and expected future world requirements for plywood, particle board and fibreboard. Special attention will be given to problems relating to promoting and expanding the industry in developing countries.

The consultation will bring together representatives of governments, industries and consumers of wood-based panel products throughout the world, including experts from forest industries, forest services, research laboratories, national and international planning and development agencies, equipment manufacturers and trade associations.

FAO studies have concluded that the growth of the wood-based panels industry in recent years has been remarkable. According to these studies, in the nine years between 1963 and 1972 world production of wood-based panels more than doubled, reaching 80 million cubic metres in 1972. Of this, plywood accounted for 37.9 million cubic metres, particle board 25.8 million and fibreboard 16.3 million cubic metres.

The present average rate of growth for the industry as a whole lies between 6 and 7 percent per year, and in the newest and most rapidly growing sector, particle board, output is expanding at around 14 percent per year, a rate of growth comparable to that of the plastics industry.

But, said FAO, the phenomenal growth of the wood-based panel industries should not overshadow the basic fact that geographic distribution of capacity to manufacture these panels is very uneven. Six countries-the United States, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany, the U.S.S.R., France and Canada-represent nearly 70 percent of world total capacity. Ways of overcoming this will be one of the topics of discussion at the consultation.

A prospectus of the meeting is available upon request from the Mechanical Wood Products Branch, Forest Industries Division, FAO, Rome.

Totally closed white-water system in a fibreboard mill

The Isorel fibreboard mill in Casteljaloux, France, successfully completed the development of a totally closed white-water system in 1973.

The mill in Casteljaloux produces about 50 000 tons of fibreboard a year (of which 30 000 are hardboard). The wood raw material consists of a mixture of 70 percent pine (Pinus pinaster) and 30 percent chestnut and oak.

The mill was built 25 years ago; it is located beside the Avance stream which flows to the River Garonne. Over the years the effluent problem became severe. Polluting substances amounted to some 100 kg for each ton of board produced, equivalent to the pollution level of a town of 110 000 inhabitants: 16.5 tons per day. The mill studied various physical, chemical and biological methods to solve the problem but no economically satisfactory solution was found. During the period 1968-73, extensive research and experiments were aimed at solving the waste water problem through complete recycling of white water. This resulted in a totally closed white-water system which poses no special investment or operational problems.

The level of pollution now amounts to 0.8 kg per ton of board produced (compared with the previous 100 kg), which corresponds to the pollution level of a community of 700 people. The fresh water intake is now 100 cubic metres a week.

The additional investment cost connected with the closed white-water system is small and does not exceed 4 to 5 percent on the total investment cost. Only 120 kW of additional power have been installed in the Casteljaloux mill for pumps, filters, etc. Since the production of the mill amounts to some 6.5 tons per hour, the additional consumption of energy is 20 kWh per ton of board; the additional cost of energy and chemicals per ton of product reportedly amounts to less than 1 percent of the manufacturing cost.

The mill in Casteljaloux, after completely closing the white-water system, operates at the same capacity as before without important changes in the quality of the product: the colour of the board is a little darker and the water absorption higher. On the other hand, the system offers advantages in addition to that of solving the pollution problem: the wood raw material input is lower and there are no losses in chemicals added to the pulp for improving the quality of the board (e.g., fungicides).


Collecting firewood in Niger

Niger and the Canadian International Research Organization have embarked on a pilot project dealing with one of the most basic needs of daily life in Africa - fuelwood and the difficulty of obtaining it in semidesert regions.

The Canadian grant is for $141 200 and the Niger contribution in terms of forestry staff, accommodation and local labour is valued at $113 000.

The first task of the pilot scheme is to create woodlots near 70 villages in the Zinder region in south-central Niger. In addition to firewood these woodlots should provide poles and stakes. The project aims eventually at planting 165 hectares of village woodlots.

FAO estimates that more than 90 percent of all the wood cut in Africa is for fuel. Due to years of drought, the Sahelian zone of west Africa now suffers from an acute shortage of firewood. Natural forest has been gradually disappearing, natural regeneration has been impeded and population growth has put heavy pressure on available supplies. In some parts of Niger, villagers regularly walk 25 kilometres and more in order to replenish firewood supplies. Others have turned to substitute fuels, such as millet stalks and animal dung, which would otherwise be used for fertilizing impoverished soils. Researchers from the Centre technique forestier tropical at Niamey are collaborating in the project by making a statistical analysis of the results achieved by different species of trees. Some Niger forestry staff are to receive training at Niamey, and will visit neighbouring Nigeria as well to study results of forestry research in the northern areas there.

What is learned in Niger will, it is hoped, be applicable in other parts of Sahelian Africa where the scarcity of fuelwood is expected to increase.

United States: Youth for conservation

The U.S. Youth Conservation Corps programme is expanding. Approximately 5 500 youths aged 15 through 18 were employed for eight weeks this summer in 178 conservation corps camps located in national forests, national parks and on other government lands.

The YCC programme is designed to fill the following basic needs:

- Accomplish needed conservation work on public lands.
- Provide gainful employment for young citizens from all walks of life.
- Develop an understanding and appreciation of the nation's natural environment and heritage.

ATIBT in Abidjan: Industries and trade group looks to its resources

The International Technical Association for Tropical Timber (ATIBT) at its last annual congress urged its members to concern themselves with the development plans and aspirations of the producing countries on which the world depends for tropical timber.

ATIBT, which is made up largely of representatives of the European tropical timber industries and trade, met in October 1973 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. It was the first meeting of the group, since its founding in 1951, to be held outside Europe and in a producing country. About a hundred people from 12 countries participated, of whom 60 were from western Europe. The meeting was opened by Jacques Toro, State Secretary for Afforestation in Ivory Coast.

The congress was given a review of existing conditions and development plans for forestry and amber handling and transportation in the exporting countries of central and west Africa, in particular those of Ivory Coast. Other important tropical timber-producing countries in the region are Liberia, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Zaire, the Central African Republic, Ghana and Nigeria. It was stressed that ATIBT members should encourage involvement of international financing organizations in development of the forestry and allied sectors in tropical timber-producing countries.

Mr. Toro told the group of his government's concern with the promotion of commercially lesser known species of timber. He also gave assurance of cooperation and fair treatment for foreign investors and said that there was a strong consciousness in Ivory Coast of the need to add value to tropical timber through wood conversion industries at home.

ATIBT recommended the setting Up of new grading standards which would include a correct table of grades for newly introduced species. That the quality of consignments, sold as first-grade timber, should fluctuate because of the lack of such firm grading rules was, it was agreed, a situation which should be corrected.

ATIBT cautioned that the promotion of new species should be based on sound technical studies of qualities and the assurance that future supplies are available.

The congress included tours of inspection of forests, timber-handling facilities and wood industries in different parts of Ivory Coast. Delegates visited the government forestry training centre at Divo, built in collaboration with TAO. There were tours of reforested areas planted with high-value species, including framiré, niangon, acajou and sipo located at l'Abbé, and teak at Séquié.

Delegates also visited the SIBOIS peeling and plywood mill in Grand Bereby, the HOUT and IBS sawmills and the CIB peeling factory in Gagnoa. In Grand Bassam they saw SCAF installations for sawmilling, peeling and manufacture of plywood, particle board and prefabricated housing units. They visited the LAMECO factory for laminated beams in Locodjo and the timber storage and landing facilities in Abidjan.

A British society changes its name

The Society of Foresters of Great Britain has adopted a new constitution and changed its name to the Institute of Foresters of Great Britain. The Institute has as its aim the maintenance and improvement of standards of practice, the status of professional foresters in the United Kingdom and the advancement and promotion of all aspects of forestry.

North American quarantine requirements

Quarantine requirements and procedures to prevent introduction and spread of exotic pests of mutual concern to member countries of the North American Forestry Commission has been issued as a short booklet by a study group of FAO's North American Forestry Commission. In English, French and Spanish under one cover, it is available without charge from the U.S. Forest Service.

Libya: Lessons in sand dune fixation and afforestation

The Libyan Arab Republic has great areas of drifting sand dunes. These occur naturally in deserts, but may also occur in semidesert regions (180-300 mm annual precipitation) as a result of misuse of the land, for instance through overgrazing. Moving sand dunes - or creeping deserts - do considerable damage throughout the Near East to villages, roads, railroads and land under agriculture, and they degrade the environment of cities as well.

Libya has been coming to grips with the problem with an impressive programme of sand dune stabilization and afforestation under the direction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform. The Government is conducting a major project to create "green belts" in place of drifting dunes. It also has an active extension programme with individual farmers, which has resulted in 30 000 hectares of afforestation on private lands over the past 20 years. Six years after afforestation with Acacia cyanophylla farmers are able to harvest wood for charcoal.

Afforestation on public lands has led in some cases to wood production of 15 cubic metres per hectare per year. The principal tree species used are Eucalyptus camaldulensis, E. gomphocephala, Acacia cyanophylla and, in some areas, Pinus halepensis. Grazing restrictions are enforced in conjunction with afforestation. Before afforestation the actual moving or drifting of the dunes must be stabilized. This can be achieved by two techniques.

The first is a traditional method in which dead vegetation is put into the ground in a checkerboard pattern, in squares of from 2 x 2 to 4 x 4 metres, This provides small windbreaks which then serve to protect young trees. The cost of this kind of fixation is about $640 per hectare.

The second method involves spraying the surface with crude oil. This technique has the advantage of being rapid and low in labour costs. Calculated on the basis of 1973 figures in the Libyan Arab Republic prior to the increases in oil prices, the cost of this method was about $420 per hectare.

The first method is usually slightly more effective, but oil spraying is useful and practical where labour costs are a consideration, especially in countries with abundant supplies of petroleum.

Because Libya has been a leader in sand dune stabilization - especially with spray techniques - an FAO/Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) training group consisting of representatives from 20 countries spent a week there in September last year studying Libyan methods of fixation and afforestation. The point was made during the tour that although costs for reclamation of semidesert land can be high, the long-term agricultural benefits more than justify the effort and investment.

International forestry meetings



United Kingdom

Tenth Commonwealth Forestry Congress

4-28 Sept.


Symposium on the modernization of the sawmilling industry

13-17 Jan.


Study tour on forest site diagnosis

10-20 Sept.


FAO/SIDA forestry education development course for French-speaking countries

13 Jan.-7 Feb.


Symposium on research and marketing of southeast Asian timber, International German Foundation for Development with FAO


Chiang Mai (Thailand)

FAO/DANIDA training course on forest seed collection and handling

20 Jan.-14 Feb.


ECE Timber Committee (32nd session)

14-18 Oct.

New Delhi

World consultation on Wood-Based panels (Indian Trust Fund)

6-16 Feb.

Wageningen (Netherlands)

IUFRO symposium on mechanization of stand establishment

15-19 Oct.

New Delhi

Committee on Wood-Based Panel Products(4th session)

17 Feb.


Joint FAO/ECE/ILO Committee study tour

21-26 Oct.


FAO/SIDA seminar on forestry development planning for Spanish-speaking countries



Joint FAO/ECE/ILO Committee/IUFRO joint session

28 Oct.


Advisory Committee of Experts on Pulp and Paper (16th session)



Joint FAO/ECE/ILO Committee on Forest Working Techniques and Training of Forest Workers (10th session)

29-31 Oct.

Ossiach (Austria)

FAO/Austria training course on forest roads and harvesting in mountainous forest


Belém (Brazil)

FAO/Finland seminar on sawmilling and other mechanical forest industries in the Amazon watershed

11-29 Nov.


Seminar on industrial production and use of wood-based products in the building industry (jointly with ECE Committee on Housing, Building and Planning)

2-6 June


Near East Forestry Commission (7th session)



Symposium on multipurpose logging machines



Ad hoc meeting of experts in preparation for the seminar on the behaviour of wood products in fire


Port Moresby Papua/New Guinea

Asia/Far East regional seminar on the economy and utilization of secondary species in the tropics through wood preservation



Expert consultation on integrated forest land use planning (Environment Fund)



FAO Technical Conference on the Tropical Moist Forests

22 Sept. - 3 Oct.


FAO/NORAD seminar on storage, transport and shipping of wood


Interlaken (Switzerland)

Symposium on forests, wood and their role in the environment

20-26 Sept.

East Africa

Training course for wildlife and park management field personnel in Africa



ECE Timber Committee (33rd session)

20-24 Oct.


Ad hoc AFC working party on wildlife and national parks



FAO/Finland regional seminar on seasoning and wood preservation for Africa


Latin America

Ad hoc LAFC working party on wildlife and national parks


As Jack Westoby retires

Jack Westoby, a native of Hull, Yorkshire, and a forestry economist, was never educated as a forester except, as he liked to say, "by absorption." Yet when he retired from FAO this year after 22 years, he was one of the best known foresters in the world. How did he do it?

Jack Westoby

He did it through the application of great energy and intellect. His use of words clearly reflects this. Hard-edged and with a cerebral elegance, his words get to the uncluttered essence of a problem. For more than 20 years Jack's words have injected a sense of purpose into what has often been a wilderness of international forestry. Most important, Jack Westoby's words have promoted reform, for that is what he is first and above all, a dedicated, single-minded reformer. Of course he knows that the imprecations of a reformer require a certain amount of provocation, but, remarkably, the gaps between rhetoric and reality in Jack's words are minute.

By the time he retired as Director of the Forestry Department's Programme Coordination and Operations, Jack Westoby had pried open the closed shop of the foresters and given them the vision that something exists outside of forestry. At the same time, he made the non-foresters understand that forestry's role in the world is vital, and especially so in issues central to the work of FAO.

All who have had the good fortune to know him - and especially the members of the Forestry Department of FAO - know the truth of what I have said. But I would also like to mention what Jack did for me personally.

First of all, he guided my feet through the FAO labyrinth when they certainly needed guidance. More important, he awakened me, a man who comes from a somewhat cold and technological background, to the moral passion of my job. I am deeply grateful.

The Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote: "There is no path, paths are made by walking." Jack Westoby is a pathmaker. The paths he has opened will stay open, because we want to walk them.

Assistant Director-General
Forestry Department, FAO

As René G. Fontaine retires

René Fontaine, Director of FAO's Forest Resources Division, retired this spring after 27 years with FAO and a distinguished career before that with the French Forest Service. René belonged to the heroic age of FAO, when things started, where everything had to be improvised, nobody knew exactly what to do, initiative was encouraged untrammelled by red tape, and there was great enthusiasm for international cooperation and a better future.

René Fontaine

At the close of the second world war, when he was at the Direction Générale des Eaux et Forêts in Paris, he was seconded to the new-born FAO and put in charge of European forestry matters in Geneva. His first task was to take over the archives and library of the International Forestry Centre. It had been in Berlin and then Salzburg, but was formally linked to the International Institute of Agriculture in Rome, which was in the process of being absorbed by FAO.

It took a great deal of tact and ingenuity to overcome endless snarls in four-power occupied Germany and Austria, to say nothing of dealing with the nacent and still formless FAO getting started in Washington. Tact and ingenuity are what René used in large doses. Because of him, the valuable library and archives became part of FAO.

René Fontaine has been extremely important at FAO in following and moving events in international forestry. He was instrumental in founding the International Poplar Commission. He played an active role in the Executive Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUNC) and on the Permanent Committee of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). He saw to it that wildlife and environmental matters gained an important place in FAO forestry. He had a lot to do with Mediterranean forestry and was honoured by election to membership in the Academy of Forest Sciences of Florence.

These are only a few examples of what René gave to FAO and to his profession during a long and very active career. Never a politician, he operated with great effectiveness in what was sometimes a rather complex political "ecosystem." René Fontaine represents international civil service at its best.

Chief of Protocol, FAO

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