By the STAFF OF FAO's DIVISION OF FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS
The first World Forestry Congress was held at Rome in 1926, the second at Budapest in 1936, and the third was planned for 1940 with the Government of Finland as host. The war, however, intervened and all thought of the Congress had to be postponed. It is a happy omen that the peaceful and long-range pursuit of forestry could take up again where it had to leave off for such a destructive and short-term activity as war and that the Government of Finland was again prepared to extend its hospitality to a gathering of the world's foresters. FAO's Annual Conference at its Geneva session in 1947 gladly accepted Finland's proposal of Helsinki as the site of the Third World Forestry Congress.
The preparatory work done by the Organizing Committee set up by the Finnish Government was truly remarkable, and the results will be gratefully remembered by all those who attended the Congress. Professor Saari, the Chairman of that Committee, Mr. Leppo, his Secretary-General, and the members of their staff are indeed to be congratulated.1
1 Officers of the Third World Forestry Congress are listed on back cover.
The World Forestry Congresses have provided an opportunity for foresters from all parts of the world, who come as individual experts and specialists, to express their convictions and their experience, to exchange ideas, and to enlarge their horizons by getting a global view of their common or different problems. Therein lies their value and their usefulness.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is greatly in debt to the Government of Finland for its willingness to undertake the difficult task of organizing the Congress. No country could have given the participants a more hearty and generous welcome. In his address to the second plenary meeting, the Director of FAO's Division of Forestry and Forest Products set forth the significance of the Congress' deliberations for the work of FAO; and this article examines the findings of the Congress with the purpose of seeing whether in the fields of forestry and wood utilization, considered both separately and as a whole, trends and principles have emerged that will provide guidance and assistance in formulating national, regional, or international policies.
The Congress achieved important and significant results, but it achieved them only after surmounting certain difficulties which, although perhaps inherent in the character of such an assembly and, as such, inevitable, did constitute obstacles.
A minor difficulty was the matter of language. A fact expressed in the language of one expert by a specific term very often appears to assume an entirely different meaning when translated into English or French, the official languages of the Congress, to say nothing of the difficulty of conveying exactly the same idea even in these two languages.
This difficulty was formally recognized by the Congress, which recommended the preparation of a forestry dictionary in the major languages of the world. Such a dictionary should not only list translations of terms; it should also give precise definitions of the terms most commonly used in forestry and of the more important phrases of the forester's vocabulary. This must be a very long-term project which will require the collaboration of many experts in all the countries concerned.
As it turned out, one of the main difficulties that arose during the deliberations stemmed from the somewhat ambiguous status of the members of the Congress. It is a generally accepted principle at international meetings that if governments have not been directly invited to send official representatives, delegates are presumed to be speaking as private individuals, as experts who are voicing their own opinions and who cannot commit their governments by their utterances. There is naturally a tendency at world meetings for participants to form national groups that have the appearance but not the juridical qualifications of a national delegation. Nevertheless, the loose application of the term "delegation" somewhat confused the issue between personal opinions and official policies in this case.
Furthermore, countries were very unevenly represented numerically. Only one or two delegates had been able to come from some countries of great significance in the world from the general economic standpoint as well as from the standpoint of forestry, such as India, Pakistan, and the major Latin-American countries.
All this was of minor importance as long as the Congress limited itself strictly to the discussion of scientific or technical problems. Naturally, agreement on such questions was not always unanimous, but in those cases it was sufficient for the Congress to record the different points of view and conflicting opinions. However, certain technical problems touch closely on forest policy. It was perhaps a mistake that the words "forest policy" were included in the designation of one of the sections of the Congress. The national forest policy of each country is determined by the country itself. It is naturally based in part on technical considerations, but also on the country's economic and social requirements. Misunderstandings might perhaps have been avoided if the subject matter for this particular section had been described as "economic and social problems." As the Director of FAO's Division of Forestry and Forest Products was careful to point out, national government policies, such as national forest policies, should not be discussed at international meetings except by official representatives of the governments concerned. This consideration was not always kept clearly in mind by some of the delegates, and if unanimity was finally achieved on the most important question raised in this section, it was only after a somewhat lengthy debate.
Opening meeting of the Third World Forestry Congress in the Great Hall of the University of Helsinki; the President of Finland, Mr. Paasikivi, delivering his address.
By courtesy of the National FAO Committee of Finland.
Despite obstacles of this nature, the Congress achieved tangible and worth-while results. The separate conclusions of the five sections of the Congress can be grouped under two headings:
The International Aspects of Forestry Problems
In the first place, the Congress gave recognition to the importance of forests on the international plane, this importance stemming from their protective utility and their productive utility. This is not a mere statement of principle, it is the recognition of a major fact. Foresters and technicians of the wood-using industries throughout the world will differ on details; in no two places are problems identical, and the answers must also vary with latitude and longitude. But they all share at least the same fundamental concepts of the utility of forests and sustained yield, which constitute the basis and justification for forest policies. Furthermore, such ideas are no longer confined to a small group of specialists: in each country they appear to be increasingly recognized, not only in government circles but also by the public at large. This habit of thinking, common to both foresters and timber specialists in all countries, coupled with an increasing understanding of international co-operation which appears to be the mark of advancing civilization, should naturally lead to general recognition of the international significance of forests and wood-using industries.
Evidence of this was given in the general recommendations on forest policy which the Congress extracted from the findings of the various sections and embodied in the early part of its General Report. These recommendations expressed the desire of the assembly that FAO should submit for the consideration of its member governments a statement of basic forestry principles, the elements of which the Congress itself had already evolved. It was also recommended that FAO assist those nations which are now formulating their forest policies and, finally, that the
Annual Conference of FAO explore whatever further steps member governments consider appropriate for the application of these principles.
The import of such recommendations in what might be termed the forestry history of the world is quite clear. For the first time, the specialists of all nations have unanimously assented to the need for international action in the field of forestry. The principles underlying such action have been indicated. The international organization charged with the task of codifying and implementing them has been designated. As specialists, the members of the Third World Forestry Congress could perhaps have gone further. They did respond admirably, however, to the appeal made at the opening of the Congress by one of the veterans in the field of world forestry, Mr. Fjelstadt.
A Broader Concept of Forestry
The second idea which has been brought out very clearly by the work of the Congress is one that has been repeatedly stressed by FAO's Division of Forestry and Forest Products.
This idea is that the sciences and techniques of forestry should not be limited to the solution of silvicultural problems as ends in themselves. Closely bound up with "forests" as a whole, and even with each individual forest, there is a whole set of physical, economic, industrial, and social factors which must be taken into consideration. The relationship is so close that none of these factors can be considered independently, and together they form a new and broader concept of the term "forestry."
For example, although foresters have undoubtedly always realized that their forests constituted an essential factor in the protection of agricultural soils and the regulation of water flow, they have not perhaps clearly understood until recently exactly what role they were fitted to play within the general organization of national soil conservation services; perhaps their ideas as to their responsibilities have now been somewhat clarified. Again, certain social problems are involved that directly affect forest workers and workers in the wood-using industries; others, broader in scope and deriving from the protective utility of forests, affect both rural and urban populations.
The most striking example of the emergence of a new way of thinking, of this broader concept of forestry, is the idea of the close interdependency between the wood-using industries and the "forest." The Congress recognized, and clearly states in its report, that the forest cannot be regarded separately from the industries to which it supplies raw materials. The forester must adapt his methods of management so as to produce the amounts and kinds of forest products needed by industry. In the same way, it is the responsibility of technical research and industrial development to adjust conversion methods and uses to the limitations and requirements of sound silviculture. This basic principle was recognized by both foresters and businessmen attending the Congress, and thereby assumes a major significance.
The work of the several Sections can now be discussed in greater detail. It was principally in Section I, devoted to pure silviculture, that the trends discussed above became most apparent, although perhaps they were formulated more definitely in Section III.
Section I - Silvics and Silviculture
From the purely silvicultural aspect, one trend - a trend toward "industrialization" - seems to be clearly evident from the discussions of the Congress. Strongly influenced by developments in plant geography and ecology and by progress in the study of the evolution of vegetative associations, foresters generally inclined from about 1920 towards a type of silviculture which aimed at minimum interference with natural succession and at allowing stands to develop as nearly as possible into climax forests.
Although ecological laws have in no wise lost their authority, foresters have lately come to observe that, while under certain circumstances the climax species are also the most valuable from the point of view of industrial requirements, in other cases the so-called "pioneer" species are of greater economic importance. It is then the duty of the forester to interrupt the natural evolution toward a climax forest at the stage when this pioneer growing stock has been established, still making provision for the conservation of the forest and respecting the principle of sustained yield. Very often the crop of greatest economic value may be completely artificial, obtained by planting species entirely foreign to the locality. In many parts of the world, exotic softwood stands of this sort have been established and constitute the only crop of any value.
This trend is evident also in connection with the exploitation of virgin forests. One group of tropical foresters appears disposed to reject the process of slow improvement of mixed tropical forests and to adopt more or less drastic methods of replacing them, either naturally or artificially, with homogeneous crops consisting entirely of species with high commercial value.
It may be stated in justification of this point of view that the trend in silviculture is toward "industrialization," not only because man can now intervene more powerfully to make nature serve his needs, but also because stands thus established are better adapted, because of their uniform character, to meet the demands of commercial exploitation and the needs of the wood-using industries in general.
A consequence of this trend is perhaps the increasing attention paid to forest genetics. When pure, even-aged stands are established, in contradiction to the laws of ecological succession, it is obviously desirable that they be composed of varieties or races of useful species which are well adapted to the local climatic conditions, quick growing, and yielding a high-grade wood that is resistant to disease and insect attacks.
How can the establishment of such stands be assured? Here again the trend toward "industrialization" is evident. The old processes of natural regeneration, selection of good seed bearers, progressive elimination of the poorer and least desirable trees - in short, natural selection as practiced for many centuries in countries where forestry has been an established practice - now seem slow and uncertain. Even nursery stock or plantations raised from seeds harvested from elite, carefully selected natural stands now appear inadequate to many technicians. They believe that the solution for the future lies in the establishment of seed "orchards" which would, by modern methods of grafting and propagation by cuttings, make possible the rapid harvesting of forest tree seeds whose origin could be postively certified.
The Congress did not discuss the prospects open to the silviculturist through taking advantage of the phenomena of heterosis, hybridization, and polyploids. It would not be a misinterpretation of present-day trends, however, to say that many foresters already anticipate an even more intensive "industrialization" of their crops, of which at least the elite trees would be grown from seed drawn directly from forest genetics laboratories.
But foresters who are beginning to work along these lines are under no delusion as to the possible serious dangers that may threaten the growing stock which they establish. The laws of nature cannot be flouted without running such risks.
These dangers are particularly vivid to European foresters, who have before their eyes the comparative failure of attempts to establish pure, even-aged coniferous stands over vast areas in the heart of their continent. Although a few specialists regard this failure as a peremptory warning to conform more closely to fundamental ecological laws, the majority see in it no more than an indication that much more research is needed to discover better methods of raising this sort of forest and of avoiding the very serious disadvantages entailed by their homogeneity.
This explains the lines along which forest research is today being directed. The most obvious dangers which threaten crops maintained artificially in an unbalanced state are disease and insect attacks. Despite careful methods of stand management and the increasing efficiency of certain direct, but unfortunately expensive, methods of fighting such attacks, the only real hope in the struggle against disease and insect pests lies in genetic research.
The greatest danger, however, certainly lies in the degradation of the forest soils, or, at least, the gradual loss of soil fertility which ensues under stands for which the soil is not naturally suited. Less spectacular than the results of disease and insect attack, the effects on the soil become apparent only after a long interval, sometimes only in the second or third rotation. Yet the basic duty of the forester is to maintain the fertility of the soils which support his tree crops and to conserve land productivity. Therefore, research on forest soils should be assigned primary importance in silvicultural research. Attention should be concentrated on studies into the evolution of soils under the influence of various types of tree cover and of humus formation. Until recently, attention was focused mainly on the chemical composition of soils and their chemical evolution. Several papers presented to Section I illustrated the importance of soil biology and, particularly, of a detailed study of the micro-fauna, variations in which apparently not only have a decisive effect upon the physical and chemical properties of soils but also constitute a very sensitive indicator of their evolution.
It is through such research that foresters hope to be able to detect dangers menacing forest soils and to find means of allaying these dangers and of restoring or conserving the original soil fertility. Among such means are the application of fertilizers and soil cultivation. For the future, however, the most commonly accepted method will be the introduction of understoreys, particularly of broadleaved trees, under pure softwood stands.
It is not surprising that strong opposition was voiced to the trends sketched above. Exponents of a silviculture which adheres closely to natural succession strongly expressed their disapproval both with regard to tropical forests and forests of the cold or temperate zones. Too narrow a viewpoint, however, cannot be supported. Foresters have to consider the separate requirements of specific regions and the needs of local wood-using industries. In some parts of the world, such as central and northern Europe, forest growth tends naturally to develop into climax types of great economic value, thus obviating the need to counteract normal succession. On the other hand, over great stretches of the Mediterranean and Atlantic areas, foresters cannot allow trees to grow which are either entirely valueless or which industry finds it difficult to use, for the result of such a policy is that forest owners lose interest in their land and their forests. A parallel can well be drawn here between Old World areas and the Atlantic, Pacific, and Northern zones of North America.
Further arguments were set forth on both sides. It was pointed out that the establishment of exotic softwood species sometimes represented merely a reconquest of the land by foresters, since some species, previously eliminated from their natural range by climatic changes and unable to re-establish themselves when conditions again became favorable, were now being re-introduced by man. It was also noted that the establishment of artificial plantations on any specific site might afford a means of recreating the environment necessary for the gradual reconstitution of the original natural forest.
In this discussion sufficient weight was perhaps not given to possible developments which would enable industry to utilize raw materials today considered entirely valueless or of little value. Some of the arguments voiced in favor of what we have called the "industrialization" of silvilculture would no doubt lose some of their force when confronted with the success achieved by wood-using industries in certain areas in using raw materials which hasty judgment had previously classed as useless.
To complete the picture of these trends, it should be added that differences of opinion seem to disappear entirely when foresters, whether hailing from tropical regions or other parts of the world, are dealing with forests whose prime function is protection rather than production. In these cases the need for caution in silvicultural treatment is generally recognized. Any practice or technique which involves leaving the soil dangerously uncovered, which may cause erosion or loss of soil fertility (the soil being a delicately balanced complex in tropical climatic conditions), or which may obstruct the regeneration of cut-over stands, must be rigidly eliminated.
All that has been said above clearly shows the great efforts that are being made by silviculturists to satisfy the requirements of wood-using industries and human needs for wood generally. It is hoped that research now in progress will secure the results desired and that these will be applicable on a vast scale. But a certain amount of caution must be exercised. If current practices are found to lead to the gradual loss of soil fertility, the basic capital of mankind, research workers must unhesitatingly revert to observance of the major natural laws, in the knowledge of which great progress has been made and on which research continues to be pursued with the greatest assiduity.
Section II - Forest Surveys
The subject matter for Section II at first glance appears highly technical and of interest only to specialists in these difficult questions. This is a very superficial judgment, however, and the discussions demonstrated the essential role of the techniques of sampling and forest inventories in the composite picture of forestry and wood technology. It was pointed out that one of the principal reasons for failure in the exploitation of virgin forests is lack of knowledge or erroneous evaluation of resources in the forests to be opened up.
A solution of the problems raised in Section II is, therefore, of concern not only to the silviculturist but also to wood-using industries. Knowledge of resources is the very basis of all forest policy, for just as the scientific management of an individual forest cannot be undertaken without an accurate knowledge of its size, its geological, soil, and topographical features, the growing stock, and the annual growth, so no valid forest policy having definite economic and social goals can be laid down without an adequate knowledge of the forest domain to be managed.
This was the main conclusion reached in the deliberations of this Section. It should be carefully noted by the many countries which still hesitate to allocate the funds necessary for forest surveys and inventory operations.
Furthermore, recognition of the international importance of forestry also imposes another obligation upon countries. Not only do methods of estimating standing timber volume, cut, and losses due to natural causes vary from country to country, but the results produced by these methods are seldom comparable. The use of different units of measurements may be only a minor inconvenience, but the varying classifications of types of timber, the inclusion or exclusion of certain portions of trees in inventories, the different methods of evaluating data, all make the compilation of uniform information extremely difficult. FAO is greatly encouraged by the recognition given by the Congress to its efforts towards securing comparable information. However, a considerable amount of work still remains to be accomplished, which FAO is in the best position to perform; this the Congress commissioned it to do.
Section II also studied inventory methods which should be employed to improve knowledge of all aspects of the national forest domain. The most important of these methods is aerial photogrammetry, which has come into general use during the past few years. The great promise of this method was generally recognized, but the specialists warned foresters against undue optimism in view of the present state of development of this technique. Despite successes in specific instances, ground operations cannot be dispensed with in securing an accurate knowledge of forest resources. Aerial photography, aside from the tremendous possibilities it affords for the collection of topographical and planimetric data, may produce considerable simplification in inventorying by sampling. It can often increase the accuracy of this method and lessen the cost. At present, however, it does not eliminate the necessity for carrying out ground surveys.
Of comparatively recent introduction into forestry, the technique of aerial photography, supplemented by ground sampling, has wide application, depending on the country in which it is employed. Each country will seek a different method of attaining the results which it desires, but in each instance there is doubtless one method which is more efficient than any others. In this field, where rapid progress is continually being made, it is therefore extremely important that foresters should keep abreast of the progress being made in various countries. This is precisely the purpose of the survey now being undertaken by FAO, which should be valuable not only because of the assistance which it may render to foresters everywhere, but also because it may stimulate the tabulation of results of national forest inventories in uniform, international terms.
Another of several problems considered by Section II was the determination of forest increment, which entails the solution of many difficult questions. The study of this subject was entrusted to the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
It is appropriate here to call particular attention to the question of the relation of forests to water supplies. The interest aroused by studies of this question proves that foresters are endeavoring to incorporate the surface areas for which they are responsible more intimately into the economic life of each country. It was commendable that this Section, which was concerned with forest production and the direct utilization and evaluation of the resource, should also have concerned itself with the indirect utility of forests and the means of evaluating this aspect.
Experiments conducted over a period of years and still being continued in many countries have shown the influence of the forest cover on run-off, stabilization of water flow, and control of floods. Unfortunately, in many countries the functions of forests and their effect upon entire catchment areas and upon the prevention of floods are entirely overlooked. Furthermore, even in some otherwise well-informed circles, the belief still exists that a well-constructed system of dams, storage basins, and other hydraulic engineering works can by itself remedy disorder in the water regimen of any catchment area, whereas in reality the permanent correction of any disorder and of its impact upon soil stability can be accomplished only by restoring and maintaining on the catchment area an adequate and properly distributed forest cover.
The Third World Forestry Congress is to be commended on the formulation of its statement on this subject. It expresses the aroused consciousness of foresters as to the enlarged scope of their role in the economic and social spheres in each individual country. It is to be hoped that they will call public attention to the inadequacy of the role generally assigned to forests and foresters in over-all programs of soil conservation, soil rehabilitation, and the protection of other natural resources.
Section III - Forest Economics, including Forest Policy
Reviewing the most urgent current economic and social problems in forestry, the discussions in this Section were followed with great interest by the members of the Congress.
Many of the points covered have already been mentioned. For example, the desire for a clearer comprehension of the terms which recur constantly in the vocabulary of forest economists, and for a more generally acceptable international terminology, was expressed in the paper on "sustained yield" presented by Professor Saari, President of the Congress, and in the subsequent discussion. Foresters appear to be in essential agreement as to what they consider the real meaning of this term to be. Applied to a specific forest, it has "dynamic" implications that the objective sought is a continuous yield and also a maximum output both by quality and quantity, so that a better expression might be "progressive yield," as suggested by Professor Saari.
The discussion of afforestation problems again illustrated the marked preference for softwoods and quick-growing deciduous species suited to industrial demand. However, stress was also laid on the social aspects of afforestation, which provides employment opportunities, helps to keep people on the land when agricultural work alone cannot provide full subsistence, and sometimes even results in the re-establishment of centers of population in long-deserted areas.
The President of the Third World Forestry Congress, Professor Eino Saari.
By courtesy of the National FAO Committee of Finland.
Another topic considered by Section III was the relation of agriculture to silviculture in rural economy. The role of forests in providing stability to rural populations, either as a source of employment or as a source of income, was clearly demonstrated. In the major forestry countries, forests are the principal element in creating and maintaining stable communities; in the major agricultural regions, they also exert a considerable influence. These facts have already been widely recognized.
This question is intimately related to that of employment or unemployment of forest workers and workers in the wood-using industries, because agricultural communities supply the major portion of the manpower for forest exploitation and sometimes also for mills and factories, at least in countries where small forest holdings predominate. The responsibility of foresters and timber specialists becomes greater when the economic activity of an entire region is dependent upon forests. Such a situation requires not only a guarantee of stable employment to workers, but also, despite improved living conditions already achieved, the right to seek and enjoy even better working conditions, housing, nutrition, and social security.
The preceding statement shows sufficiently the correlation between all questions relating to forestry, timber, and the wood-using industries. After this Third World Forestry Congress, it should be impossible to speak of silviculture without having regard to the influence of various types of silviculture upon the entire wood-using industry, on the environment of forest and wood industry workers, on the economic evolution of rural communities, and on the composite picture of economic and physical conditions in an entire country or region or in the whole world. Inversely, fluctuations in equilibrium of any one of these factors will react upon the others and upon silvicultural practice itself.
This interdependence of technological, economic, and social factors is particularly apparent in the problem of exploiting virgin forests. The findings of Section III clearly demonstrate this by emphasizing that in some regions or countries where research is advanced and silvicultural techniques have been sufficiently perfected, the solution of this problem depends mainly on finding capital investment; elsewhere, particularly in tropical regions, investment opportunities wait upon progress in research and upon intensification of research. In the first case, the opening up of virgin forests is contingent upon the construction of road networks, the installation of railways, and the construction of mills for converting lumber and other forest products; capital can readily be found if a steady and adequate return on investment is assured. In the second case, on the contrary, reliable markets for forest products must first be found so as to assure a steady outlet for the volume of production needed to attract and hold a sufficiently large labor force. Only with stability can the vast amount of capital required for the exploitation of virgin forests be attracted to create new enterprises.
Section III specifically emphasized the advantages of combining agricultural and silvicultural activities, particularly in the reconstitution of tropical forests, by adapting traditional agricultural methods. The importance of close collaboration between farmers and foresters was stressed. The future of at least the major almost uninhabited forest regions of the world depends on such collaboration, which has already repeatedly demonstrated its potential value. We may see here perhaps a formal condemnation of projects that have recently been brought up for the purely agricultural colonization of such areas. A statement was inserted into the General Report of this Section to the effect that it might be preferable to import food supplies for local populations in order to alleviate the pressure exercised on the forest by their requirements for crop and pastureland. In many cases this solution would be better economic practice than permitting the disappearance of the forests, with all the serious consequences involved.
Section IV - Forest Utilization
Despite the interest of the two general papers presented to this Section - one on work methods in the temperate zones, the other on the organizational setup for the exploitation of tropical forests - it must be admitted that the work of Section IV was the least popular among the delegates to the Congress.
Nevertheless, the contrast between these two reports produced one extremely interesting result. In some countries where the forests are comparatively homogeneous and where intensive silviculture is being or can be practiced, careful studies are already made with a view to increasing efficiency in extraction operations and lessening the amount of labor required. The day is foreseeable when such work will be more or less standardized as a result of improvements emanating from such research, the mechanization of the industry, and vocational training of the manpower employed. Eventually, the perfecting of industrial techniques will lead to improvement of forestry methods or will facilitate the application of improved methods. In mixed tropical forests, conditions are very different. They vary to such an extent that no standardization of extraction methods seems possible as yet. The mechanization of logging and transportation operations would be a desirable step forward, and much has already been accomplished along these lines, but the mechanization of actual felling operations is difficult. At any rate, it has so far been found impossible to reduce factors of time and labor in such work to a single common denominator permitting any measurement of efficiency. Possibly in the near future advances in silviculture will lead to improved methods of exploitation.
The existence of this contrast suggested to Section IV the submission to the Congress of a recommendation that an international conference on tropical forestry be organized under the auspices of FAO. This recommendation received the unanimous approval of the Congress. Although a sufficient number of tropical foresters attended the Congress to point out the main trends in tropical silviculture, there were too few of them to consider in detail the problems of the treatment of such forests and of the wood-using industries of these regions. Forestry and timber technicians are aware that "all forests are one," as the title of our review suggests, and that the future of their own forests and forests industries depends in a large measure on the development of tropical silviculture in the coming years.
The Section stressed the close inter-relationship between social welfare, labor, and economic problems in forest exploitation; it further emphasized that industry technicians must solve the economic problems, while the task of solving silvicultural problems devolves upon foresters. It recognized the necessity of setting up training schools for forest labor and the importance of increased efficiency in forestry work. It recommended that FAO's Division of Forestry and Forest Products continue gathering and distributing information on logging equipment and techniques. Finally, it recommended the establishment under FAO of a body for the purpose of coordinating time studies in forest work and all other methods of study related to various types of hand tools and mechanical harvesting devices.
Section V - Forest Industries
The work of Section V pertaining to forest industries was highly interesting, not only to the industrialists who attended the Congress, but also to silviculturists.
Beginning with the first plenary sessions, this Section was called upon to deal with an important question raised in a report submitted by FAO and in a remarkable study made by Mr. Streyffert, namely: Is it possible to determine accurately the quality of wood which will be required in the future by industry, and is the trend in industry toward preference for quantity rather than quality?
In the discussion that followed, advocates of the view that quality is more important and the exponents of the greater importance of quantity took turns in presenting weighty arguments. The discussion suffered to some extent from a lack of definition as to what we are to understand by "quality" of wood. As Mr. Streyffert remarked in his report, we are still ill-informed about the effect of the usual type of silvicultural operation, particularly thinnings, on the intrinsic properties of wood, that is to say on its physical, mechanical, and chemical characteristics.
If we limit ourselves to external evidences of quality, such as clear stems and freedom from knots, does not external quality actually coincide with quantity, is not the finest stand the one which is located on the best site and which has the maximum growth potentialities? Within the stand itself are not the elite trees, which have the finest appearance, also the best timber producers? Nowadays, therefore, when we speak of seeking quantity rather than quality production, it appears to the silviculturist that we refer only to a reduction in the diameter or age at which trees should be felled, or to the growing of species hitherto little sought by industry, both hardwoods and softwoods.
True, technicians have demanded of silviculturists both an increase in the quantity of wood produced and an improvement in its quality to comply with the requirements of the wood-using industries. Nevertheless, they have also urged that industry develop additional means for the utilization of broadleaved species, small-sized trees, and, if possible, bark. They recognize the importance of the development of wood chemical industries, where the tree size or even the tree species is of only minor importance, for the scientific utilization of forest resources. They stress the need for industries to take into account reduced consumption of fuelwood and to prepare themselves to absorb the additional quantities of wood thus made available. They point out the value of devoting more attention to the manufacture of pulp and the potentialities of utilizing the hardwood species, including tropical species.
It therefore appears that, in the limited sense indicated above, there is a slight tendency to favor quantity over quality production. More explicitly, industry apparently feels able to absorb and transform into valuable commodities wood which is today considered of comparatively inferior grade, provided research is actively continued.
Such an effort on the part of industry would greatly facilitate the task of the silviculturist. However, cooperation does not stop there. Complete utilization of "waste products" is possible, and Section V issued a clear statement recommending the integration of the various wood-using industries as the only possible means of ensuring the maximum economic utilization.
The integration of factories using wood as their raw material has become an actuality in several countries. In any ease, there is a very clear trend in this direction. The Congress confirmed this trend and recognized its economic importance.
We are all aware, however, that the stability of such integrated industries is possible only if a continuous supply of raw material is guaranteed; that is, if this grouping of plants is associated and integrated with a suitable area of forestland, properly managed to meet the requirements of the whole group.
This concept of the "forestry combinate," which FAO's Division of Forestry and Forest Products has repeatedly endorsed, received the approval of the Congress in principle.
Although nothing which concerns wood-using industries is a matter of indifference to silviculturists, the other recommendations of Section V concerning wood preservation and the development of the prefabricated house industry are possibly of more limited influence upon the general orientation of silviculture.
No picture of the Third World Forestry Congress would be complete without reference to the field trips that took place before the Congress convened. Many delegates to the Congress, visiting Finland for the first time, found these trips a revelation of silviculture developed in harmony with the evolution of the wood-using industries.
The visitors were introduced to the rural and industrial life of Finland, which is so intimately bound up with forests, and to the splendid Finnish hospitality. All of them are grateful for this hospitality and cannot but have retained the most pleasant memories of it. Furthermore, the excursions were conducted by the most eminent foresters of the country, who, with their experience, could provide a ready source of information for each visitor.
A variety of trips was possible, enabling each member of the Congress to select the tour in which he was most interested. Because so much ground was covered, it is difficult to do justice to the excursions. We emphasize here two problems of particular interest.
When we refer to "problems," we do not mean matters that are either incapable of solution or unsolved. On the contrary, the two problems to which we allude can be considered as having been solved in principle, if not in practice. But we simply wish to indicate that, side by side with its magnificent achievements, Finland also has its own special forestry problems. One might be tempted to overlook this fact because of the fine aspect of Finland's forests and because of the seeming ease of silvicultural practice in this country, where only rarely is it necessary to interrupt the natural succession toward climax forest.
Two or three figures will suffice to give an idea of the over-all importance of these problems. Over the forested area of 21,670,000 hectares, annual growth amounts to only 40.8 million cubic meters, or approximately 1.9 cubic meters per hectare. Visitors were able to inspect experimental plots and even whole stands which, although located on poor soils and in the northernmost parts of the country, exceeded this figure, sometimes yielding more than 10 cubic meters per hectare. Naturally it would be utopian to expect that, in such a cold climate and on generally poor soils, average production could reach such high figures. On the other hand, these figures clearly show that there is still ample opportunity for Finnish foresters to increase their forest production.
Planting the curly birch as a memorial to the Congress, in the courtyard of the Forestry Building at Helsinki. Alongside the curly birch is the plaque which is reproduced on the cover.
By courtesy of the National FAO Committee of Finland.
Reclamation of Marshlands
A means by which Finnish foresters increase forest increment, and thereby national forest production, is through the afforestation of unproductive lands; the same applies to many other European countries.
In Finland, unproductive areas comprise mainly marshland, the major portion of which is already included in the total area of forestland. They carry only poor stands of low productivity or are sometimes even completely treeless. The foresters propose the afforestation or improvement of these marshlands.
Of course, not all marshlands are reclaimable and not all can be put under forest, and the same methods are not equally applicable in all areas. However, a proper system of drainage would, in many instances, suffice to achieve results such as could be admired by many of the delegates to the Congress. Stands were seen where the drainage of marshlands, whether accompanied by sowing of seed or artificial planting, or even without such measures, had increased the volume per hectare of standing timber from a few cubic meters to a figure ranging from 200 to 300 cubic meters within a period of 40 years, while the average annual increment, previously less than one cubic meter, was increased to from 4 to 8 cubic meters.
Efforts are still being made to improve the results of drainage by applying calcium in various forms, wood ashes, or sand, but drainage techniques have now been perfected to the point where the only difficulties are manpower, financing, and mechanical equipment. These difficulties impede the carrying out of the program formulated by Finnish foresters to increase the productivity of their forests in a comparatively few years.
Through the continuity it has pursued in implementing this program, the energy with which the task has been carried out for several decades, and the remarkable results already achieved, Finland affords an example to foresters of all countries.
Privately Owned Forests
Privately owned forests comprise approximately 50 percent of the total forested area of the country. Popular appreciation of forests is certainly well developed, and the large private forests, many of which belong to the big timber companies, benefit from enlightened care and regular management.
Nevertheless, as in many European countries, private forests are poorer and less productive than State forests, although very often they are located on more fertile soils, are more easily accessible, and can more readily be subjected to intensive silviculture.
Private forests, therefore, present a problem. In Finland, the problem has been practically solved by legislation which receives the whole-hearted support of public opinion and which will, in a comparatively short time, increase the output of private forests to a rate comparable with that of the State forests.
The law of 11 May 1928, which codified legislation dealing with private forests, merits a detailed analysis. The essential feature is the creation of "District Forest Bureaus," agencies which function under the supervision of the Government and in compliance with official regulations. The Government also defrays their expenses. These Bureaus are each composed of five members, four of whom are appointed by the District Agricultural Associations, and the fifth by the Central Organization of the District Forest Bureaus.
The District Forest Bureaus are assisted by local forest bureaus under the instructions of municipal councils, composed of three members charged especially with handling forestry matters in each commune. Their job is to assure the application of scientific silvicultural practices to private forests throughout their districts. The law stipulates that the function of the District Bureaus is "to promote private forestry by disseminating information as to and knowledge of scientific silvicultural practices, by offering guidance and assistance in forestry work, by encouraging and promoting collaboration in forestry affairs, and by adopting all measures which may serve to develop and improve silviculture."
It also gives tie Bureaus enforcement powers. Notification of any tree fellings or forest exploitation must be given in advance to the District Forest Bureau, unless such fellings are purely for domestic needs, thinnings, or form part of an official working plan previously approved by the Bureau. Should these fellings be performed in such a manner that, in the opinion of the Bureau, the condition in which the stand is left or the treatment of the forest soil jeopardizes natural regeneration; or should the felling of young trees not seem to the Bureau strictly to constitute thinnings; or should the cut-over area be burned in a manner inconsistent with the best land utilization practices, the Bureau may intervene and impose a "closure" penalty upon the proprietor.
The closure entails either a prohibition against felling timber or against using the forest soil in any manner whatsoever, or both. It may also, if necessary, require the taking of measures stipulated by the Bureau to assure the regeneration of the forests at the expense of the proprietor.
While such legislation greatly encourages the achievement of a sustained yield in all forests throughout the country, it does not impose any obligation upon a proprietor to do so; and even less does it oblige him to attain a "progressive yield," in the sense of the term used by the Congress. However, it approaches very near to this goal, and the sole factor which prevents its attainment is that the District Forest Bureaus lack the power to prevent premature exploitation of a stand or to require a suitable age gradation in each forest. But there is no doubt that, by using powers of persuasion wisely, along with their powers of enforcement, the Bureaus readily fulfill their purpose and impose on practically all forests under their supervision true scientific management, if we define such management as the application of a sound conservation policy on a sustained-yield basis.
The manner in which the two problems just reviewed have been handled by Finland is an excellent example of the efforts being made by the foresters of the country. In setting such an example and many others before the Third World Forestry Congress, Finland's foresters have rendered a signal service to the specialists from all over the world who received such a gracious welcome in their country.