Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

The world of forestry

COFO looks beyond 2000
Latin American forestry policy
Peasant forest plantations in Cuzco
A glance at the Brutia pine
Deforestation in the Dominican Republic
The forests of Japan
Progress made in watershed management
Fire-fighting success
New forest research project

COFO looks beyond 2000

Focusing on the theme of "Forestry 2000", the Seventh Session of the Committee on Forestry of the FAO Council (COFO) met at FAO headquarters in Rome between 7 and 11 May 1984.

The 197 participants in the meeting included delegations from 83 member countries, four non-member countries, the Holy See and seven UN bodies and specialized agencies, as well as five other international organizations. The session was opened by FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma, and the Committee then unanimously elected G. D. Holmes (UK) chairman and C. L. Bhatia (India) first vice-chairman.

The Committee after reviewing four background documents prepared by FAO, debated the policy theme "Forestry beyond 2000 - potentials, problems and prospects, with special emphasis on forest policies for the temperate, tropical and arid regions and at the global level". In these discussions, the Committee identified conservation of the forest resource as a major concern. For the humid tropics, the major forest conservation problems were considered to be forest degradation and depletion; for the Mediterranean anti arid regions, fire and desertification; and for the temperate industrial regions, acid rain.

In light of these concerns, the Committee recommended that all countries accelerate the process of heightening political awareness of the critical importance of the world's forest resources for the future of humankind. FAO, the Committee recommended, should maintain a full programme of information and assessment of the outlook for the forestry sector.

The fundamental importance of forests to food security was stressed by the Committee, which recommended the closer integration of forestry with agricultural and pastoral uses through the fuller participation of local people.

Since future deliveries of forest goods and services depend upon adequate funding and investment, the Committee recommended that funding sources other than government finance he mobilized to support forestry development programmes. Stressing FAO's important role in world forestry development, the Committee appealed to donor governments and agencies to increase their contribution to FAO's extra-budgetary resources for forestry field programmes.

Turning from policy matters to FAO forestry programmes, the Committee endorsed FAO's long-term strategies, with their emphasis upon greater participation by people in the benefits to he gained from forestry development This point was underscored by M. A Flores Rodas, Assistant Director-General, FAO Forestry Department, who told the participants that forestry has a social mission and should make a strong contribution to the process of development, the central challenge of which was to achieve social justice and an equitable distribution of social benefits. Forestry requires a holistic approach, he said, one that recognizes the multiple outputs of the forest and the overriding need to involve people in the decision-making process. In supporting this emphasis, the Committee declared that the human dimension in forestry had not yet been sufficiently stressed.

LOOKING AT FORESTRY'S FUTURE COFO emphasizes forest conservation

The Committee several other recommendations regarding FAO programmes:

· That FAO's priorities focus on action needed to meet the principal problems and challenges to forestry identified in the "Forestry beyond 2000" documents for the temperate, tropical and arid regions and at the global level

· That the highest priorities be given to strengthening the contribution of forestry to rural development to tree breeding anti genetics for energy production and desertification control; and to education, training and the development of national forestry institutions

· That FAO prepare a study on the interrelationship between forestry and food security for the attention of the Committee on Food Security, the Committee on Agriculture and other appropriate FAO bodies

Other items reviewed by the Committee included decisions of relevance made by FAO governing bodies: items referred to COFO by Regional Forestry Commissions and other FAO statutory bodies: implementation of the "Forestry for Development" strategy adopted by COFO at its Fifth Session (1980); follow-up to recommendations made by COFO at its Sixth Session (1982); and FAO's programme of work for the forestry sector

The Committee heard a report presented by the Mexican delegation regarding plans for the Ninth World Forestry Congress in Mexico City in July 1985 It also adopted a resolution proposed by the Austrian delegation that 1985 he proclaimed the "International Year of the Forest".


Latin American forestry policy

Even though Latin America possesses a great wealth of forest resources, much of it is inaccessible A significant proportion of what is accessible is not exploited, since the continent has only a small number of commercial species It is easy, then, to understand the importance of afforestation and reforestation in all regions with species that combine ecological and economic values.

Almost all the countries of Latin America are currently engaged in afforestation and reforestation According to a 1983 study by Dr Misael Acosta-Solís, President of the Instituto Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, entitled "Política forestal y reforestación nacional", the leading countries in terms of reforestation are Argentina, with Salicaceae and pine; Brazil, with eucalyptus and pine; Chile, with radiate pine; Colombia, with various forest-tree classes; Ecuador and Peru, with eucalyptus and radiate pine; and Uruguay, with eucalyptus and pine The countries with the most extensive experience in forestry activities in general are Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. All of them are quite interested in reforestation with conifers, particularly pulp producers, who find them suitable for the manufacture of a variety of papers in order to avoid foreign currency debts incurred in importing forest products.

The forestry prospects for Latin America are bright. Forest plantations have produced promising results, even though only small-scale operations have been conducted so far Consequently, as the natural forest is prudently exploited, it is imperative to increase forest plantations, not only to replace felled natural forest but also to provide lumber, cellulose for paper, and numerous other forest products that the economy of each country may need.

SAWMILL WORKERS IN AND IN KABUL bringing forestry's benefits to people

The forestry programmes of each nation, Acosta-Solís argues, should conform to the conditions indicated by studies carried out on each geographic area, marking out zones that need to be rehabilitated ecologically, zones for economic reforestation, zones for commercial reforestation and zones restricted by the state to small-scale enterprise.

To achieve such goals, the forestry departments of each country need to be strengthened. Similarly, educational institutes specifically concerned with forest industry education need more support in order to train forestry personnel in increased numbers. Governments must provide incentive systems and extensive lines of credit for the forest industry. In short, once an appropriate forestry policy is drawn up and defined, each country must also develop the infrastructure needed for implementation.

For more information, contact Publicaciones Científicas Más, Apartado 408. Quito, Ecuador.

María Gutiérrez Rome

TRANSPLANTING SEEDLINGS IN JAPAN a country with a "wood culture"

Peasant forest plantations in Cuzco

Representatives from FAO and several other international organizations recently met with Mr Simón Morales Tejada, director of Cenfor IX Cuzco, the regional office of Peru's National Forest and Wildlife Institute. The meeting occurred at the forest plantation of Chacán, Cuzco, which is managed and owned by a peasant community.

Mr Simón Morales said that the reforestation started in Cuzco in 1973, and that these peasant forest plantations ranked among the best in the whole country, thanks not only to favourable climate and soil conditions but also to the wide incorporation of peasants in the operation. "Reforestation cannot be allowed to stagnate," he stressed. "Forests must be exploited according to the resources of peasant enterprises and the needs of the region's population. We have borne this in mind, as well as industry and marketing."

Mr Simón Morales listed the different problems of the peasant communities, such as high interest rates on forest loans and lack of technical assistance. "Forest activity", he said, "must be developed to benefit the peasant communities and the country as a whole."

Mr Kenny-Jordan, an FAO project manager in Peru, speaking on behalf of all the representatives, expressed keen interest in such plantations and spoke of a desire for exchange and collaboration with them to promote such activities in other countries. The president of the peasant community thanked him and stressed the economic importance of forest plantation development for peasants.

Sylva 2000, December 1983

A glance at the Brutia pine

The first part of a monograph devoted to the Brutia pine, written by Prof. Ibrahim Nahal of the Faculty of Agronomy, Aleppo University. Syrian Arab Republic, has been published in Forêt méditerranéenne (December 1983).

Prof. Nahal presents the Brutia pine as a complex species containing numerous subspecies. Until very recently, says, this tree was confused with its cousin, the Aleppo pine. However, it has been identified since 1811, when it was catalogued by the celebrated Neapolitan botanist Tenore, who named it after Bruttium, the ancient name for the Calabria region - though the author says that the species has never been found in Italy, so the description was probably based on specimens imported from the Near East.

Prof. Nahal is particularly interested in the subspecies Pinus brutia var. brutia. He lists its geographical sources of supply as Greece, Turkey, the Syrian Arab Republic. Lebanon, Iraq and Cyprus. The tree attains a height of 35 m and has a lifespan of 150 years. The author describes its morphological characteristics and its qualities as a forest tree, highlighting its great adaptability to a variety of climate and soil conditions, characteristics that make the species eminently suitable for reforestation projects. For this purpose. Nahal recommends the exclusive use of seeds collected in the area's pine-woods at each bioclimatic stage. The Brutia pine can he used for a wide range of products and processes: lumber, veneer manufacture, packaging, carpentry, paper manufacture, etc.

This first part of the monograph is accompanied by an impressive bibliography and many photographs of great interest.

Deforestation in the Dominican Republic

More trees have been cut down in the past 20 years than in the whole previous history of the Dominican Republic, according to Dr Abelardo Jiménez Lambertus, president of the Instituto Dominicano de Bioconservación. At this rate all the country's forests will be destroyed in only another 10 years. A major cause is illicit tree-cutting.

Dr Jiménez Lambertus says that the Crónicas de las Indias mentioned that Santo Domingo had abundant vegetation, and that as late as 1910 the forest area constituted about 50 percent of the country's territory. By 1967 that area had already decreased to about 11.5 percent. The urgently necessary solution, he says, is to cease deforestation immediately and start massive, high-quality afforestation.

Dr Antonio Thomen, a Dominican expert in ecology, says that, unfortunately, the Dominican Republic does not have a cohesive policy in the forest sector. Dr Thomen proposes, among other solutions, the establishment of a national council for the defence of the environment, the prohibition of tree-cutting, the urgent implementation of a broad reforestation and national tree-repopulation programme, and the establishment of community forests and energy resource farms, to prevent total destruction of the environment in the Dominican Republic and save its endangered forest resources.

El Caribe, 27 May 1982

The forests of Japan

A special issue of Revue forestière française (1983) is devoted entirely to the forests and woods of Japan. The articles deal with various significant Japanese achievements in the fields of research, education and silviculture and in the timber industry. The authors, a team of French foresters, had the opportunity to examine these achievements at first hand during the Seventeenth World Congress of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), held in Kyoto in 1981.

As Haruo Oyama, Professor of Agronomy at Meiji University, stresses in his preface, Japanese culture is "a wood culture, symbolized by the eternal nature of wood itself". In a concrete and iron culture like that of the modern industrialized world, using exhaustible, nonrenewable resources - which we shall run out of one day, he prophesies - we must find a way to enhance the value of wood, which will "give a new dimension to our civilization".

The articles that follow consider, among a variety of forestry topics, Japanese forests and their management; the silviculture and production of sugi (the Japanese cedar), Japan's "king tree" and the focus of extensive afforestation since 1600; the production of ceremonial alcove posts (the result of a process of artificially shaping the bole of the growing sugi, a practice described by the chairman of the congress as "perverse"); the cultivation in Japan of the shitake, a ligniferous mushroom increasingly important as a basic foodstuff; the national parks which articulate the very special Japanese perception of nature; and other forestry questions.

One article concentrates on the use of timber for housing and in the construction of religious temples and imperial buildings. Many other aspects of the Japanese forest industry are covered. They all emphasize the gap between Japan and France, indeed between Japan and Europe, in matters pertaining to how wood and forests are used.

The problems themselves are similar: the outdated forest ownership patterns inherent in peasant societies; the plywood industry's crisis; the worker shortage in forestry; and the complexity of forest administration and policies.

Recent activities in Chile


Progress made in watershed management

During a recent visit to Chile, Luis Santiago Botero, chief of FAO's Forest Conservation and Wildlands Branch, highlighted the progress achieved by Chile in watershed management programmes. These programmes were launched between 1973 and 1977. As Botero explained, watershed management consists in securing an integrated and balanced system incorporating water, soil and vegetation, so that productivity is improved and at the same time the environment is protected. Chile has achieved a high standard in these complex tasks, he said, and its endeavours should prove significant even on a worldwide scale, since it has already provided technical assistance to several nations in South America.

Botero also praised the accomplishments of the Corporación Nacional Forestal de Chile (CONAF) in developing utilization of the country's dry and semi-arid northern areas. He participated with CONAF experts in the analysis required to initiate a programme financed by UNDP aimed at systematizing all the research completed on Chile's dry and semi-arid zones. The programme is scheduled to be launched early in 1984. Great satisfaction was expressed over the project, which has the potential to transform the economy of Chile's northern sector and may provide an example for countries with similar physical conditions.

Chile Forestal, October 1983

Fire-fighting success

Chile is in the vanguard of the fight against forest fire, according to Hugo Knockaert, chief of the fire management programme of Chile's national forest corporation (CONAF). In an interview with Chile Forestal after the completion of an advanced course in forest fire control organized by the USDA Forest Service. Knockaert said, "Chile leads the Latin American countries in the fight against forest fires."

He gave three reasons for this: (1) Chile possesses reliable statistics, something that (he claimed) no other Latin American country has: (2) the structure of Chile's programme is unique, since it Consists of a state regulating organization; and (3) there is complete coordination between the national programme and the private sector. Moreover, Chile has the fire corps, with responsibility for problems in the rural-urban sector, and the forest police, in charge of investigation in cases of damage.

As a result of these policies, Knockaert said, the problem of forest fires is under control. "The average number of forest fires is very low, proportionally even better than in developed countries such as the United States. "

The progress achieved in the use of fire itself as a weapon to fight forest fires in the United States was the most interesting topic in the training course. Knockaert said. Although the ways of applying it in Chile are different, he agrees on the value of the technique, hut says that Chile still has a long way to go in this field.

Lastly, he set two goals for the Chilean programme: the wider inclusion of private agencies in forest fire prevention; and a inroad, long-term project aimed at establishing a new forest fire risk indicator which will make it possible to "understand fire behaviour patterns according to different types of fuel".

Chile Forestal, December 1983

New forest research project

The main objective of the new joint project between the Chilean national forest corporation CONAF, UNDP and FAO, which began in April 1984 and will have a duration of three years, is to incorporate in the national economy 24 million ha in the north of the country which are now unproductive and severely eroded.

It is calculated that 78 000 new ha could he planted, which would mean an output of half a million dollars in forest products and an increase of 395 000 visitors to protected natural areas.

This new research programme represents an investment of US$856 000, of which $646 000 are being contributed by UNDP. CONAF will he the coordinating agency between Chilean national institutions such as universities and research institutes, which will execute the programme. The respective centres are ready for the first activities, which will include an evaluation of the programmer carried out so far for introduction of species, a study of carob diseases and their biological control, and approaches to the management sclerophyllous (drought resistant) forests.

Chile Forestal, May 1984

BURNT FOREST NEAR RIO TENO Chile cites advances in fire-fighting

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page