The FAO/Austria Seminar on Economics and Management of Forest Operations for Countries in Transition to Market Economies was held from 27 June to 3 July 1994 at the Forestry Training Centre in Ort/Gmunden, in Upper Austria. The Seminar was organized by the Republic of Austria and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The objectives of the Seminar were to: (a) provide participants with a good understanding of the principles of economically-efficient and environmentally-sound forest harvesting operations, based on the experience of private forest enterprises and government-supported administration and financial programmes as established in Austria; (b) provide information on integrated multiple use of forest management, infrastructure development, integration of agriculture, forestry and tourism, development of intermediate and advanced technology on forest operations and sawmilling; (c) demonstrate appropriate forest operations enhancing the involvement of local populations in forest harvesting and transport providing employment and income; and (d) present country reports, exchange of experience and information among participants on problems encountered and results achieved so as to transform centrally-planned forest operations into market-oriented enterprises.
Particular emphasis in the Seminar was placed on demonstrating the principles of sound economic and environment practices in forest harvesting, especially for sustainable land use and land conservation. Included in the programme were lectures and slides, country statements, and excursions.
Ideas and knowledge concerning the functioning of the private forest sector were highlighted and methods of implementing forest sector policies and laws were illustrated (organization, education, consulting, subsidies, economics and technologies and wood processing).
Three main bottlenecks were identified: lack of information, lack of modern management skills and lack of long-term credit with acceptable interest rates.
The main problem in many countries in transition at the present concerns the restitution of forest land. The process of further privatization should be carefully conducted.
It was suggested that FAO organize yearly seminars regarding the forest sector situation in each country in transition with a view to accelerating the exchange of information among interested countries facing similar problems.
Transition to market economy requires investment. Due to the countries' limited capital resources, assistance from international financial institutions is required but with loans at low interest rates and long pay-back periods.
This document is a compilation of the lecture papers presented at the Seminar. It is hoped that managers of forest industries from countries not attending the Seminar will profit from the information contained therein.
Trade and Marketing Branch