THE SEVENTH WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS has met at Buenos Aires, Argentina, from the 4th to the 18th of October 1972. Thus a World Forestry Congress has been held for the first time in Latin America, where the time and place have been specially apt for the selected theme: Forests and Socio-Economic Development.
Forests cover one third of the earth's land surface. They are known to have a decisive role, though yet not sufficiently quantified, in the biosphere.
Man's history is of struggle to conquer nature, a struggle which has led man to devise increasingly complex technologies and new forms of social organization. For millenia a user of forests, only in modern times has man acquired an integral concept of the manifold contribution of forests and associated wildlands to his welfare.
Products of the forest enter into every sphere of man's activities, and thus make a decisive contribution to economic growth. Forests counter erosion, protect agriculture, reduce floods, assure clean water. They reduce pollution, provide amenity and recreation, shelter wildlife and constitute a main defence against environmental deterioration.
The Congress has examined many facets of the contemporary challenge: how to accelerate economic and social progress while maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment, recognizing that the aspiration to raise living standards often finds expression in forms that threaten the environment.
The Congress is not a competent body to pass judgement on the political, economic and social objectives of governments. Nevertheless, as a special assembly broadly representative of many countries and many walks of life concerned with the forest -one of the world's principal renewable resources in relation to the future of humanity- it is with a profound sense of responsibility that the Congress makes this call.
The Congress believes that the Plan of Action formulated by the United Nations Conference on Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972 will influence forestry development throughout the world in the years to come. Recognizing that in many countries declared forest policies are not in accord with new knowledge, new preoccupations and new aspirations, the Congress considers it is now urgent to redefine forest policies in view of these new circumstances. The Congress firmly believes that, whatever the political objectives, whatever the form of economic organization, whatever the present pattern of forest land tenure, governments are responsible for planning the continuous flow of the productive, protective and social goods and services from the forest, ensuring that the physical output and environmental benefits of the forests are available for the general welfare of their peoples now and for all time. Since we live in one world, and since the forest resources of the world are unevenly distributed, national policies and plans must take account of the international context.
The Congress has noted with concern that the gap between developed and developing nations continues to widen. Some of the largest forest resources of the world lie in countries where economic and social development is lagging. Over and above considerations of social justice, the fact that these resources have a world significance requires greatly intensified efforts by and aid to less developed countries for the development and proper management of their forest resources, so that these resources may simultaneously serve to raise the living standards of their own peoples and contribute to the world's expanding need for forest products.
In particular, this requires greatly intensified research, which too should be carried out within the developing countries, in certain key problem areas. These include: the integral utilization of heterogeneous forests; species and planting techniques for man-made forests under a wide variety of ecological conditions; the adaptation of technologies to accelerate domestic processing and use; the role of forests in rehabilitating marginal lands and halting desertification; the global and local environmental influences of the forest; and the contribution of wildlife management.
The Congress considers that, having regard to the increasing complexity of knowledge required for wise forestry decisions, the resources presently devoted to research in the physical and social sciences relevant to foresty are still insufficient. Of even greater concern, however, is the fact that arrangements for the transmitting of knowledge, including the transfer of research findings to policy-makers and managers, are becoming inadequate. The Congress urges all forestry research agencies and forestry administrations to give high priority to ensuring that new knowledge is swiftly incorporated into forestry activities and practices.
The Congress recognizes that if the forest are to increase their contribution to socio-economic development, the share of the developing countries in international trade in forest products must expand, and this will require improved conditions of trade.
The Congress notes that some of the main obstacles to forestry development today are institutional; status and structure of forest services, forest legislation and organs concerned with education, research and extension. There is need to strengthen and adapt forestry institutions in the light of the changing calls on the forestry sector to enable them to to make a full contribution to political understanding and social and economic development.
The Congress critically examined the status and responsibilities of the forestry profession. Foresters have been pioneers in the struggle to conserve and rationally use renewable resources. As men and women experienced in the multi-purpose management of the forest resource, they cannot but view with satisfaction the growing concern about environmental quality and the need for proper management of the world's renewable resources. Foresters recognize that forestry is concerned not with trees, but with how trees can serve people.
This Congress declares that the forester, being a citizen as well as a professional, has the clear duty and responsibility to ensure that his informed judgement is heard and understood at all levels of society. His allegiance is not to the resource, but to the rational management of that resources in the long-term interest of the community. To this end, forestry education needs to be broadened, with greater emphasis than heretofore on those disciplines that contribute to the understanding and exercise of the forester's responsibility.
Finally, this Congress does not share the views of the prophets of doom. It recognizes that the world will need an ever increasing flow of goods and services from the forest. It is fully confident that these needs can be met through the rational management and valorization of existing forests and through the creation of new, man-made forests.
It is confident that the government and peoples of the world are capable of achieving this task of ensuring not only maintenance, but enhancement, of environmental quality. Members of the Congress unanimously pledge their unstinted contribution to these goals.