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The work of FAO

Fourth session of the FAO conference
FAO publications

Fourth session of the FAO conference

The Fourth Annual Conference of the 58 member countries of FAO opened at Washington, D.C., the temporary headquarters of the Organization, on 15 November 1948. More than 350 delegates and observers attended the session, which was the first to be held in the United States of America, previous sessions having been held at Quebec, Copenhagen, and Geneva.

The Conference was confronted with a very full agenda and had to concentrate its work into a limited period of time. The 18-nation Council of FAO had, however, previously drawn up a suggested program for the Conference proceedings, and this program was closely followed, enabling the various meetings to deal expeditiously with the matters in hand.

During the two-week session the Conference admitted Saudi Arabia to membership; referred the application of Israel to the FAO Council for further consideration; admitted the Holy See to the status of permanent observer, deferred action on a permanent site for FAO pending further study by the Council and a report preferably to a special session to be Bailed by the Director-General, selected Havana as the seat of its next Conference and tentatively fixed 19 November 1949 as the opening date, voted to set, up a special committee to review the contribution scale of the member nations, and took steps looking toward the creation of inter-governmental commodity agreements after hearing a pledge of support from President Truman of a new International Wheat Agreement.

At opening plenary sessions the Conference, in addition to choosing Charles F. Brannan, United States Secretary of Agriculture, as Chairman, named V. K. Wellington Koo, the Chinese Ambassador, as First Vice-Chairman; Senator Jose Manuel Casanova of Cuba as Second Vice-Chairman, and James M. Dillon Minister of Agriculture of Ireland, as Third Vice-Chairman.

Early in the session the Conference resolved itself into three Commissions, where the bulk of the Conference work was done.

Commission I, presided over by Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, independent chairman of the FAO Council reviewed the general world situation for food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and laid down the further policies to be pursued by FAO and its member nations.

Commission II, under the chairmanship of Mr. B.B. Sen, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, examined the technical activities of the Organization for the past year and its plans for 1949, with the object of ensuring that the work of FAO within its limited budget, was compatible with the specific objectives agreed on by the Conference

Commission III, with Mr. Arthur Wauters, President of the Belgian National FAO Committee, in the chair, dealt with the financial and administrative matters of the Organization.

At the final plenary session, the Conference formally adopted the reports of the three Commissions, thus giving the reports full Conference sanction and the authority of Conference recommendations.


Discussions took as their starting point two documents submitted by the FAO secretariat. These were The State of Food and Agriculture - 1918, a comprehensive 200-page survey of world conditions and prospects based on the latest information and statistics available; and National Progress in Food and Agriculture Programs - 1918 - a 150-page summary and analysis of the annual reports submitted by member governments in compliance with Article XI of the FAO Constitution.

In adopting the Commission's report, the Conference noted that the year 1948 had been particularly favorable to agriculture, but found the output of forest products still insufficient in the face of greatly expanded demand.

The Conference declared that the grievous unbalance between the economics of the different regions constitutes the principal economic problem of our time. It reached the conclusion that unless positive action is taken, the result of the present situation might well be aggravated disequilibrium in many spheres - a glut in some areas, deficit in others; a glut of one commodity and shortage of another; unexportable surpluses in one region for lack of the necessary foreign exchange elsewhere.

Five regional subcommittees of Commission I prepared reports on production and consumption problems in their areas. These reports were for Europe, the Near East, Africa, the Far East, and Latin America. The Conference requested the Council of FAO and the Director-General to keep the reports under constant consideration, with a view toward implementing progressively the suggestions and recommendations which they contained.

Amongst the references to Forestry and Forest Products which these reports contain are the following:


Forest Utilization and Conservation

Forest conservation is basic to increased production of rice through assuring water supplies for irrigation The utilization of forest products is hardly less important. It is fundamental to the supply of indigenous fertilizer in many Asian countries, where cowdung must, for lack of fuel, be utilized for cooking fires. Industrialization must depend on near-at-hand raw materials, of which timber is one of those most readily converted with a comparatively small outlay of capital. Furthermore, the incomes of rural people in many countries of Asia can be augmented by part-time employment in logging and other woods operations

For these reasons the Conference recommends the holding of the Forestry and Timber Utilization Conference for Asia and the Pacific, and submits that many of the problems mentioned above can be profitably considered at this conference.


Increase of Cultivable Area

The Conference recommends that governments in the Near East co-operate in the development and utilization of common water resources, and urges governments to acknowledge the regional significance of certain streams and rivers in an effort to reach permanent agreements concerning these water resources; that where soil erosion is extreme, governments take steps to conserve the land in connection with reforestation measures, that governments take steps to prevent overgrazing resulting in serious soil erosion and deterioration of the soil and through legislation and other measures, establish control over grazing, intergovernmental exchange of information on related conditions and experience would be advantageous.

Governments and Other Services

In order to carry through a well-planned economic program in the vital fields of production and consumption - to increase the area of cultivation and to improve existing agricultural practices - it is often essential for underdeveloped countries to seek the assistance of foreign technical experts in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, nutrition, etc.. Therefore, the Conference stresses the importance of making experts available, either through FAO and other international agencies or through member governments equipped with facilities for training the type of experts needed. The Conference realizes the present difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of experts in various fields, but thinks that every consideration should be given to the requirements of underdeveloped countries, whose economic development schemes should be initiated as soon as possible.


Forest Products

World wood pulp problems, especially those of supply and distribution, have particular importance in view of the uncertain outlook for productive capacity and supply of wood pulp in various parts of the world. It is proposed that a preparatory conference should attempt to survey the world situation and outlook and should formulate a program of regular international statistics. The timber equipment program developed with regard to Europe will, it is hoped, constitute an important demonstration of the practical advantages to be gained from international cooperation.

The Conference notes the timber program undertaken in Europe through cooperation with the Economic Commission for Europe and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and believes that the experience gained in this instance should receive attention in Europe and should be considered when planning for similar action in other regions.



Forests are important in Africa, both as natural resources and as a means of exercising an influence over the natural environment. Efforts must be made to obtain a more exact appreciation of the importance and value of these resources. The Conference is appreciative of the fact that FAO has given full attention to the problem: in both 1947 and 1948 the Organization has published an inventory of forest resources; and it has also made contacts with forestry centers in Africa itself.

The Conference recommends that permanent contacts be established with forest research stations in Africa, and recommends that governments develop colonial forestry centers.


Forestry and Forest Products

The Conference wishes to emphasize the importance of creating forest services in Latin America and training personnel, especially large numbers of practical forest workers, such as forest wardens. This is a phase of forest service development that governments can begin immediately within their countries offering to each other the facilities now available or to be created in the near future for training such workers.

To increase the output of forest products, the Conference urges governments to bear in mind and take measures to implement the resolutions adopted at the Conference on Forestry and Forest Products convened by FAO at Teresopolis, Brazil, 19-30 April 1948, and recommends the creation of forest nurseries to provide planting material for use on individual farms.

With regard to the recommendation of the Teresopolis Conference that a forestry research center be created for the benefit of the Latin-American countries the Conference recommends that FAO study and report to its member governments in Latin America on the cost of establishing and operating this center and further, recommends that this study be made by the Forestry Office which FAO will establish in Latin America.

Soil Resources

Latin America as a whole suffers from rapid depletion of its soil resources through erosion brought about by such malpractices as uncontrolled forest clearing and burning to prepare land for planting. The Conference calls the attention of governments to the resolutions of the Inter-American Conference for the Conservation of Renewable Resources held at Denver, Colorado, in September 1948, and of the Teresopolis Conference on Forestry and Forest Products. The need is stressed for maintaining a continuous effort to educate agricultural producers and the public opinion in general concerning the importance of conserving soil, water, and forest resources. In particular, the Conference urges governments to be aware of the need for introducing knowledge concerned with habits and practices of conservation into the subject matter of the school systems.

In planning agricultural resettlement and development programs, governments are urged to take account of the danger to which soil, water, and forest resources of the areas concerned may be exposed in such schemes, if adequate protective measures are not taken in time. This is of particular importance with regard to the clearing of tropical forest areas to provide cultivable land, since there exists great danger that the exposure of such soils to cropping conditions may bring on rapid or irrevocable loss of their fertility. The Conference urges governments to obtain technical advice from FAO concerning the uses to which such tropical forest soils can safely be put in order to maintain their productive power: recommends that governments strengthen measures for preventing forest fires, repeating in this connection the recommendation for training adequate numbers of forest wardens.

Government Services

The Conference recommends that governments strengthen their services in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and nutrition, including statistics, with special emphasis on the training of workers for these various services, without neglecting the training of workers at practical levels.


This Commission reviewed the Director-General's Work of FAO - 1947/48 and devoted considerable time to a detailed examination of the Program of Work for 1949. It expressed its appreciation of the high quality of work which the staff had performed, sometimes under very difficult circumstances, and congratulated the Director-General on the clear presentation of the projects selected for 1949.

It was aware that he had been given a difficult task in selecting projects from the several hundred recommendation emanating from past Annual Conferences and other sources. He had to take into account a variety of sometimes conflicting considerations and the program of 1949 constituted an inevitable compromise.

The Conference felt that, in view of the limited size of the FAO budget, the approach adopted in preparing the program for 1949 compelled the Director-General to spread the activities of the Organization too thinly over too large a number of projects. In determining the order of priorities for particular projects, FAO should give the greatest weight to those which contribute to the welfare of the largest number of people. While, therefore, regional and national projects provide an important field for FAO's work, those projects with worldwide effects should obviously be given precedence.

The Conference commended to the Director-General the following suggestions:

1. The vital test of the budget of each division should be the priority of its projects and its contribution to the FAO program as a whole, and not a predetermined share of the total funds.

2. In order to set free for technical work the largest possible proportion of the annual budget, every effort should be made to reduce expenditure on administration and services.

3. The major projects will often be the concern of more than one division and will need to be executed by interdivisional teams organized on a "combined operations" basis. For this purpose it will be essential to ensure both the closest possible integration of divisional and regional activities, and the clear allocation of ultimate responsibility for each project. Projects should, where appropriate, provide for extension and educational activities properly adapted to the local conditions of the countries to which they may apply.

4. FAO should not itself undertake technical research. Accordingly it should not recruit to its permanent staff experts too specialized in too limited fields.


The work of the Division was reviewed on 22 November owing to the little time available, the technical aspects of the Division's work could not receive the critical appraisal which had been hoped for. This was not so serious a defect as might at first appear, since the past work and future program had already been examined and endorsed by the Standing Advisory Committee for Forestry and Forest Products at a meeting in Washington earlier in the year.

Unfortunately, few delegations numbered forestry specialists amongst their members, but the Director of the Division, Mr. Marcel Leloup, was able to hold several informal meetings with these specialists prior to the main Commission discussion and clear up many points of interest.

Dr. Anton Ceschi.(Austria) was appointed by the Commission as Rapporteur when it came to deal with forestry and forest products. Dr. Ceschi is well conversant with the work of the Division and was able to point out salient features for special consideration by the Commission.

In introducing his report, Mr. Leloup confined himself to speaking about the method of approach to the Division's work that had been adopted and the reasons for this choice.

"The program of the Interim Commission as confirmed by the Quebec and Copenhagen Conferences, had envisaged the Division's staff on a global scale, with a great number of technicians covering every branch of forestry and forest products. This was soon found to be impracticable, owing to the limited funds at our disposal.

"We had to adapt our approach to these limitations. Moreover, certain new concepts had emerged from the practical work of the Division that could not have been envisaged by the delegates of the Interim Commission. To be more effective, the work of the Division must be decentralized: at present our main effort must be centered on regional work.

"As you know, the aim of FAO, where forestry is concerned, must be to aid governments to coordinate their efforts so that the production of the world's forests may satisfy the needs in forest products of the world's population. The problems confronting each region vary greatly. For European or North American foresters, the problem is one of better management and greater protection of their forests. For Latin-American foresters, it is the development of unexploited forests, and that is also the problem of the tropical and equatorial regions of Africa. In the Far East, the most pressing question is that of reforestation, both for the conservation of the soil and for the supply of necessities, such as fuelwood.

"Thus the Division's regional work has fallen into three distinct and successive stages:

a) preliminary investigations of problems;

b) setting up the machinery for regional work, starting with a Regional Conference that states the problems and outlines the means of attacking them, and leading to the establishment of a Regional Working Group for forestry and forest products;

c) the regional work itself carried out by the countries' technicians with the assistance of the officers of the Division seconded to that region.

In Europe, we are at stage (c), In Latin America at stage (b), in Asia at stage (a), and by 1949 we hope to start work in Africa.

"It has been necessary, as I have already pointed out, to establish priorities, priorities which moreover were recommended by you at previous conferences, but I hope that with your help we can rapidly eliminate the time lag and bring all regions up to the same stage of regional work.

"I must draw your attention to another point which is equally important. Because of the small number of forestry technicians permitted by the Division's budget allotment, it has not been feasible, as the Interim Commission bad hoped, to cover all technical aspects; it is not possible to assemble within an international organization all the specialists of international reputation that would be needed, since the countries which are fortunate enough to possess them cannot put them at the permanent disposition of FAO.

"In view of this situation, it appeared more advantageous that the Division, rather than undertake all work of this type itself, should seek assistance of the best technicians through its technical committees and that, at the request of FAO, they should be called for consultation, FAO maintaining only the secretariat work, thus ensuring co-ordination and information."


The Conference, in adopting Commission II's report, expressed satisfaction with the results of the work of the Division. Although in certain respects they fell short of what was desired, they constituted a maximum accomplishment for the funds and staff available to the Division.

The Conference gave general approval to the future program of work which constituted a reasonable selection of projects.

It drew attention to the necessity for close cooperation between the Divisions of Agriculture and of Forestry on the urgent question concerning the relationship between shifting cultivation and forests in tropical countries. It emphasized also the interest attached to the projects already undertaken or proposed concerning such subjects as uniformity in common and commercial names of tropical woods, forestry legislation, the problems of technical forestry training in countries with forest resources, and "forestry combines," all offering possibilities of cooperation with different, organizations already in existence.

A certain number of points in the program were singled out for particular attention in the final report.

1. Regional Activities

The Conference stated that regional activities constitute the best means of developing regional forest policy by coordination of national programs and stimulation of intra-regional trade.

It invited the European Forestry and Forest Products Commission to submit its findings direct to the Council of FAO, and European Governments to give the Commission continued support and to facilitate the work of any subsidiary or affiliated bodies to be established.

The Conference approved the conclusions and recommendations contained in the - report of the Latin-American Conference oil Forestry and Forest Products, and urged all governments concerned to take measures to implement the recommendations. It invited all governments of Latin America to cooperate in the establishment of a Commission for Forestry and Forest Products, which should hold its first meeting during 1949, and urged these governments to establish five-year programs for the development of their forests and forest industries. It requested that the proposals to establish a central Latin-American forestry institute and research center be actively followed up.

The Conference also noted with approval that a Forestry and Timber Utilization Conference was being organized for 1949 to examine the particular problems of Asia and the Far East, and of the Pacific area. It expressed the hope that all governments of the region would participate and include qualified technicians in their delegations.

It recommended that FAO should devote early attention to assisting the Asian governments in coordinating their efforts toward the study of (a) methods of increasing fuelwood supplies through the establishment of fast-growing trees, (b) methods of combining cattle grazing with growing trees, where suitable, and the proper utilization of forest range lands, and (c) methods of increasing production of so-called minor forest products such as lac, honey, wax, and medicinal products.

2. Relations with Other United Nations Agencies

The Conference expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved in Europe with regard to increased timber production and export through the timber equipment program carried out in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Europe and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It recommended that co-operation along these lines should serve as a pattern for similar action in other regions.

It urged continued co-operation with the International Refugee Organization, UNESCO, and other international agencies with the aim of facilitating the settlement of forestry technicians and workers, anxious to End new homes in countries needing trained personnel for the development of their forests and forest industries. Co-operation with UNESCO in connection with the Preparatory Conference on World Pulp Problems was welcomed.

In connection with the Division's regional programs in Latin America and the Far East, the Conference approved the Director-General's intention of establishing close working contacts with the Economic Commission for Latin America and with the Economic Commission for Asia and the Par East.

3. Relations with Other International Bodies

The Conference considered that it was FAO's responsibility to co-ordinate all activities concerning the forest and its products, and to ensure direct and close contacts between technicians and re search organizations.

It invited the Director-General to implement the agreement arranged by the International Union of Forest Research Stations and FAO. It also expressed satisfaction with the organization and work of the International Poplar Commission and with the working agreement concluded with FAO. It urged that all interested countries should become members of this Commission, and also of the proposed International Chestnut Commission.

4. Third World Forestry Congress

The Conference was gratified to learn of the invitation from the Government of Finland to hold the Third World Forestry Congress at Helsinki in July 1949. It hoped that the Congress would be widely attended by forestry experts from all parts of the world, and requested the Director-General to report the results of the Congress to the next session of the FAO Conference.

5. Preparatory Conference on World Pulp Problems

The Conference considered that FAO should devote more attention to the important commodity, wood pulp. It expressed appreciation of the cooperation of the Government of Canada and the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association in offering to hold a preparatory conference in Montreal. It urged all interested countries to participate actively.

6. Forestry requisites

The Conference recommended that the Division should devote increased attention to the problem of forestry requisites and modern equipment for forest industries, and continue its activities in advising governments about new techniques, possible sources of equipment, and the financing of procurement programs.

7. Forest Statistics

The Conference noted that the forestry statistics published included Forest Resources of the World, Yearbook of Forest Products Statistics, and the bulletin produced in co-operation with the Economic Commission for Europe. It called the attention of governments to the fact that incomplete information and delays in returning questionnaires militate against the effectiveness of FAO's work in this field. The Conference emphasized the importance of periodical surveys of forest resources. It also recommended that the proposals on forestry and forest products statistics contained in the report of the first meeting of the European Forestry and Forest Products Commission should be given due consideration in the future activities of the Division.

8. Technical Progress

The Conference stressed the importance of establishing forestry schools in all countries having important; forest resources, and recommended that the studies initiated by FAO in forestry education be actively continued. It urged member governments to co-operate in the development of training centers in the fields of forestry and forest products.

It also recommended that FAO continue its work towards standardizing methods of testing wood products, and its work on wood chemistry.

It drew attention to the urgent need for rational development of the world's unexploited forests; stressed the importance of establishing integrated forest industries; and recommended that the Division explore possibilities in this field in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs.

9. Tropical Agriculture and Forestry

To assure the harmonious use of land, the security of the people, and a better standard of living in tropical and sub tropical regions, it is essential to bring together the techniques of agriculture, forestry, and grazing management. This will involve the study of such specific problems as:

(a) vegetation changes following clearing and cropping;
(b) effects of grazing on forests;
(c) range management methods;
(d) improved utilization of grasses and other forage;
(e) watershed protection and irrigation control; and
(f) social problems.

In order to secure prompt action, the Conference recommended that the Director-General convene an international meeting of governments on land utilization in tropical and subtropical regions, which could define the specific problems and apportion the work among research and administrative bodies existing in many of the countries.


The Fourth Session of the Conference ended on 29 November, after having, in the words of its Chairman, made genuine progress toward achieving the goals of FAO. Continuing the work of earlier Conferences and of the Preparatory Commission on World Food Proposals, the present Conference made substantial additions to what had gone before. In particular, its examination of the program of work for FAO should make that program both more fruitful and more responsive to the wishes of member governments. Greater attention than ever before has been given to integrating the work of the various technical divisions into a unified FAO program, complemented by the programs of other international organizations.

Before closing, the Conference paid tribute to FAO's first Director-General, Sir John Boyd Orr. It reported to him its "belief that the work done here at this session will mark further progress in world co-operation toward the aims for which he has pioneered so long. Those aims are: plenty and lasting peace abundance for all men of the products of farms, forests, and fisheries, which are essential for life and wellbeing, and security and prosperity for the producers of these things."

FAO publications


The second FAO yearbook of forest products statistics has now been published as a bilingual English/French publication, with a supplement in Spanish.

The year book is issued in accordance with FAO's statistical program for forest products, which was initiated as the result of recommendations of the 1945 and 1946 Sessions of the FAO Conference, held at Quebec and Copenhagen respectively. This program was reviewed in detail by two special international conferences on forest statistics, meeting in Washington and Rome in 1947, and received formal approval from the Third Session of the Conference at Geneva in 1947.

This yearbook contains information for the years 1946 and 1947, obtained from 95 countries and territories in response to a questionnaire distributed in 1948 to both member and nonmember governments. Some supplementary information has been taken from Quarterly Timber Statistics Bulletin, issued jointly by FAO and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe at Geneva, and also from the annual reports of member governments to the Fourth Session of the Conference of FAO, held at Washington in November 1948.

The form of presentation of the statistics is broadly the same as in the 1947 yearbook, although some tables appearing in the earlier volume have been modified or eliminated. The yearbook still has many defects, both as regards coverage and completeness of data. Some countries cannot as yet break down their statistics according to the categories used by FAO. However, the comparability of figures reported is undoubtedly improving.

It is extremely encouraging that more governments are finding it possible to supply information to FAO. In 1949 it is hoped to secure returns more promptly so as to allow an earlier publication date. The furnishing of data to international organizations imposes a heavy burden on national services; and the continuing cooperation of ministries, statistical bureaus, and other official agencies of the various countries indicates the value which governments attach to the issue of this yearbook.

In the 1948 yearbook there are 46 bilingual tables covering output of roundwood; trade in roundwood commodities; production, trade, and consumption of lumber, plywood, sleepers, wood pulp and pulp products. Included are summary tables of exports and imports, both by volume and value, and estimates of total roundwood consumption by countries and of per caput consumption of various commodities. Consumption in these latter calculations is taken to be the sum of roundwood output plus imports minus exports. Trade data for converted products are reduced to terms of roundwood equivalents. It is of course debatable whether this formula affords a realistic indication of consumer consumption, since, among other factors, it disregards changes in stocks. However, as neither stocks data nor actual consumption data are available, the approximations given may be accepted as apparent consumption. The figures may be questionable for some countries but they do serve to indicate the varying levels of consumption which exist between different parts of the world.

The tables are, preceded by a summary of conclusions which gives some salient points drawn from the information in the yearbook, which is estimated to cover the following percentages of 1947 world production-roundwood 57 percent, lumber 76 percent, wood pulp 91 percent. Some of these conclusions are summarized below.


World output of roundwood in 1947 is estimated at about 1,450 million m³ ®, weighing approximately 1,000 million metric tons.

Europe and North America together produced 45 percent of the world's output of wood, although they possess only 29 percent of the world's accessible productive forest. Latin America and Africa, which have 34 percent of the world's accessible productive forest, apparently produced only 15 percent of the wood output.


1947 Output

Accessible productive forest area*

Million m³®


Million ha.


North America





S. and E. Asia















Latin America















Near East and North Africa










*Based on data contained in FAO report "Forest Resources of the World," UNASYLVA, Vol. II, No. 4, 1948.

Broadleaved wood (hardwoods) and coniferous wood (softwoods) make up nearly equal proportions of the total roundwood output.

By categories, the distribution of the roundwood output of reporting countries for 1947 is as follows:


Reported 1947 output

Million m³ ®


Sawlogs and veneer logs









Hewn sleepers



Poles, piling and posts









*Including wood for charcoal and distillation. More complete information would probably reveal fuelwood to make up about 57 percent of total forest output.


By weight the wood produced ranks second only to coal. In value, annual output of the forest seemingly equals 20 to 25 percent of the world's food production.

The relative importance of wood in the world economy is indicated by the following figures, which cover total output outside the U.S.S.R.


1947 Output

Approx. Value

Million m. t.

Million dollars







Crude petroleum



Steel ingots and castings









Sources: United Nations Statistical Office and FAO statistics.
*Wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize, and rice (rough).
+Cotton, wool, jute, hard fibers, hemp, flax, silk.


Wood consumption by regions approximates the figures already shown for output.

North America, Europe, and Oceania, with 24 percent of the world's population, consume 70 percent of total industrial wood production. In other regions the emphasis is rather on wood for use as fuel, yet in South and East Asia there is an over-all chronic shortage of fuelwood.

In North America wood consumption per person is higher than in any other region, apparently about three times the rate of Europe.



Total roundwood

Industrial wood


Kilograms per caput

N. America








Latin America












South and East Asia




Near East and N. Africa++








+Including wood for charcoal and distillation.
++Figures are inconsistent, being based on inadequate coverage.
*0.87 m³.

This table is based on conditions in countries for which calculations of consumption could be made. Since many other countries with large populations have, on the whole, low rates of consumption, a nearer estimate of average wood consumption for the world would be 430 kilograms or 0.61 cubic meters per person.


The estimated world output of roundwood for 1947 is about 3 percent greater than the estimate of 1,410 million m³® for 1946. It is still approximately 3 percent below the 1937 output, estimated at 1,500 million m³®. Since world population has increased by about 200 millions in these 10 years, per caput wood supplies are now 14 percent below prewar.

For 1947, most regions show a significant increase in output of industrial wood, amounting in aggregate to a 7 percent rise over the previous year. In many parts of the world this has been accompanied by a decrease in fuelwood output.

Need for higher production and consumption.

No accurate statement is at present possible as to the rate of wood consumption which may represent a reasonable standard of living. Such an estimate requires intensive studies in a variety of countries, which FAO is planning to undertake.

In prewar Europe, consumption in industrialized countries stood at about 700 kilograms or one cubic meter of wood per person (40 percent fuelwood, 60 percent industrial wood). At the same time consumption in the United States of America was around 1,750 kilograms or 2.5 cubic meters per person (30 percent fuelwood, 70 percent industrial wood). Accepting these figures as the present range for adequate consumption, there is obviously a need in many countries and continents for a substantial rise in the consumption of wood in all its forms. This need is greatest in the Far East and the Near East, but it exists also in heavily forested regions, such as Latin America and Eastern Europe, where low incomes keep wood consumption down.

The current volume of wood output cannot fill present needs and even less prospective requirements since the world is population is increasing at the rate of about one percent yearly. Forest output must therefore be expanded.

Given reasonably good forest management, the forests of the world can be caused to produce sustained yields of wood sufficient for a world population larger than the present one, but this in turn cannot happen unless permanent markets are assured for increasing supplies of forest products.


Wood entering into international trade is estimated at between 6 and 7 percent of world output in 1947. Calculated only on reported volumes of output and trade, the proportion amounts to between 10 and 11 percent.

Recorded data for 1947 show the following groupings:

Net exporting

Net importing

North America

Europe (net exporting in 1946)

South and East Asia

Near East and North Africa



In Latin America, imports are approximately in balance with exports.


Total exports reported for 1947 amount to 90 million m³®, in terms of solid volume of roundwood, with an estimated value of 2,600 million dollars.

This value may be broken down by categories as follows:


Roundwood (sawlogs, veneer logs, pulpwood, pitprops, etc.)


Processed wood (lumber, plywood, sleepers, etc.)


Wood pulp and pulp products


Thus, wood pulp and pulp products account for nearly two-thirds of the value of all exports. Coniferous (softwood) lumber makes up about 22 percent.

Canada is the world's largest exporter of forest products, and its chief market is the United States.

Canada, Newfoundland, and the United States, with Norway, Sweden, and Finland, together export around 80 percent of all the lumber reported, and practically all of the pulpwood, wood pulp, and newsprint.

Export trends

The total volume of exports of forest products reported for 1947 is 25 percent greater than the corresponding figure for 1946.

The major exporting countries increased their exports in 1947 by the following percentages compared with the previous year:


United States







+ 2

The reported value of all exports in 1947 shows an increase of 50 percent over the 1946 figure, twice the increase in volume, which is indicative of continuing upward trends in prices.

Lumber exports reported for 1947 increased by 37 percent over the 1946 quantity, and wood pulp exports by 15 percent.


On a world basis, the quantity of imports should obviously equal exports although reported figures never match. The volume reported for 1947 amounts to 82.5 million m³®, in roundwood equivalents, which equals a coverage of 92 percent of recorded exports.

The approximate distribution of imports by regions is as follows:



Processed wood

Wood pulp and pulp products








N. America




Latin America








Other regions




* Less than ½ percent.

By value, the United States (784 million dollars) and the United Kingdom (697 million dollars) together account for 68 percent of all imports of forest products reported in 1947.

Import trends

The record of 1947 imports by regions shows that volumes increased by the following proportions over 1946:






Near East and North Africa


North America


Other regions




World production of lumber in 1947 is estimated at about 205 million m³(s) or 43.9 million standards, approximately 76 percent being coniferous (softwood) lumber.

This is an increase of 8 percent over the 1946 world estimate of 190 million m³(s) or 40.7 million standards. Much of the increase is accounted for by expanded production in the United States, Canada Japan, and Western Germany. In 1947 these countries turned out over 117 million m³(s) or 57 percent of all world production. In Sweden, which exports almost 40 percent of its output, production declined by nearly 6 percent between 1946 and 1947, from 5.3 million to 5.0 million m³(s).


Lumber consumption of reporting countries for 1947 is 144 million m³(s) or 30.8 million standards, only about 5 percent higher than in 1946, despite unsatisfied needs for lumber in industry, housing, and transportation.

All regions show an increased consumption in 1946 over previous levels except the Near East and North Africa, where additional imports did not offset a considerable decline in production.

Estimates by countries of future needs promise only small rises in the rate of consumption for the next few years.

There is a wide variation between countries in the rates of lumber consumption per person. The following are some figures for 1947 in cubic meters of sawn wood per person.



















United Kingdom







Lumber stocks of reporting countries increased by 8.4 million m³(s) or 1.8 million standards in 1947 over 1946. Some countries drew heavily on stocks in 1946. In Europe stocks were built up in 1947 by limiting consumption, while in North America greater production helped raise depleted stock levels.


About 11 percent of the total lumber production reported for 1947 entered international channels of trade.

Nearly 70 percent of this trade took place within or between the world's two principal lumber-consuming regions, North America and Europe.


The volume of exports reported for 1947 is 17.8 million m³(s) or 3.8 million standards, made up of 16.1 million m³(s) or 3.46 million standards of coniferous (softwood) lumber and 1.7 million m³(s) of broadleaved (hardwood) lumber. The total compares with 13.0 million m³(s) or 2.8 million standards reported for 1946.

The value of reported 1947 exports is put at 658 million dollars.

About 91 percent of all reported coniferous (softwood) lumber exports for 1947 originated in Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland, Brazil and western Germany. Of the total exports, 55 percent were directed to European countries, 19 percent to North America, 9 percent to Latin America, and 17 percent to all other destinations.


With imports of 6.2 million m³(s) or 1.3 million standards, the United Kingdom continued in 1947 to be the chief lumber importer, followed by the United States (3.1 Million m³(s) or 700,000 standards) and the Netherlands (1.0 million m³(s) or 200,000 standards).

Europe, Oceania, and the Near East and North Africa are net importing regions for lumber, the other regions being apparently net exporters.



World production of wood pulp in 1947 is estimated at 26.5 million metric tons.

Figures reported to FAO total 24.2 million tons, made up of 33 percent mechanical pulp, 30 percent sulphite pulp, 29 percent sulphate pulp, and 8 percent all other grades.

The principal wood pulp producing countries are the United States, Canada., Sweden, and Finland, which together turn out 82 percent of total world production.

The 1947 estimate of world production is 9 percent greater than the total of 24.3 million tons calculated for 1946 and higher than any previous figure recorded. Yet there exist pulp shortages throughout many parts of the world, and supplies of pulp products, particularly newsprint, are far from adequate to meet real needs. This is in the main due to uneven distribution of available supplies and to the fact that manufacturing capacity in some deficit areas is lying idle or is not fully utilized. In some countries, lack of fuel and power in 1947 was a factor in keeping pulp production levels below productive capacity.


Consumption by individual countries has changed significantly since 1937, as is shown by the following figures:

Percentage Increase 1947 versus 1937






United States

+ 62


+ 30


+ 20

Percentage Decrease 1947 versus 1937



- 6





United Kingdom




Consumption per person in the United States increased from 81 kilograms in 1937 to 114 kilograms in 1947. Considerable decreases are noted over the same period in other countries. In the United Kingdom, for instance, consumption declined from 64 to 26 kilograms per person.

Pulp products represent most of the paper needed for public records, dissemination of news, educational purposes, packaging, raw material for the rayon industry, and fiberboards for building. Shortages, therefore, constitute a serious hindrance to economic recovery.

Present variations in wood pulp consumption levels are due in the main to factors capable of sudden change. Few countries are prepared to forecast future requirements.


Exports of wood pulp reported for 1947 total 4.5 million tons, about 17 percent of production, as compared with 3.9 million tons in 1946. The increased exports were directed mainly to the United States. In 1937 total exports amounted to 6.4 million tons.

The largest portion of 1.947 exports, 2.8 million tons, came from European sources, namely Sweden (1.8 million tons) Finland (73,000 tons) and Norway (24,000 tons). Canada provided 1.7 million tons of exports.

The United States is the largest importer of wood pulp followed by the United Kingdom.

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