BY NORRIS E. DODD
Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
THE longer I live, the more I have come to realize that our human problems are indivisible. This is particularly the case with FAO where land, sea, and air have their contributions to make to feeding, clothing, and housing a multiplying population. Sunshine and rain, the natural and cultivated fertility of the soil, the produce of the sea, all condition the range of our activities.
Our forests - a mere fraction of their once vast acreage, and, indeed, a fraction of what they may again become - are an essential item in the over-all problem of meeting human needs. It was no accident that brought forestry within FAO's far-reaching scope. Forestry is an essential part of our work and a vital contributing factor to our plans for raising existing standards of living and providing the future food supplies which an expanding and hungry humanity will require.
In our FAO policies we always have three programs: the program for the immediate future, the program for the next five years, the program for the next hundred years. We must help to solve the immediate shortages of food, clothes, and homes. We must help nations to plan their activities over the next five years so that rising standards of living are achieved and full co-operation established between one nation and another in a common cause. We must peer deep into the future, with the best assistance and advice we can provide, so that coming generations will derive an enduring benefit from our long-term plans and programs.
Our forestry policy, under the wise guidance of Mr. Leloup, is covering all three fields. One of the immediate problems of today is Europe's shortage of timber. Our Forestry and Forest Products Division, through the FAO/ECE Timber Committee, is working out plans to secure increased supplies of wood products now and in the coming year so that houses and resources may be available for Europe's homeless thousands. Economies immediate consumption and fair distribution of available supplies are factors which are being applied to this end.
But in Europe, obsessed as it is by its immediate problems, we are not limiting our activities and plans to the near future. Through the regional Forestry and Forest Products Commission we are taking a longer view into the future and aiming at the co-ordination of European forestry programs and practices so as to ensure that forestry plays its full part as a conserver of our natural food-producing resources as well as a supplier of timber.
This activity is not limited to Europe. The Teresopolis Conference has prepared the ground for similar activities in Latin America.
Similar plans are being developed for the Middle East and also for Asia and the Far East.
GRADUALLY we shall cover the globe in our planning of a long-term forestry program and the effective development of timber supplies to meet humanity's needs. It may be true, as William Vogt says in Road to Survival, that we must tighten our belts in the immediate future in order that the long-term requirements of an expanding world population are not prejudiced. Certainly forestry has much to offer the world, if wisely directed, as an insurance against future catastrophe. It can play a great part in counteracting some of the improvident practices which, over the last decades and centuries, have reduced our natural resources and so endangered future food supplies. FAO's policy in this field is to advise and assist in all such long-term conservation policies and at the same time to ensure that the best possible use is made of such timber supplies as can be made available without endangering our longer-term projects.