FAO's program for forestry and forest products
Latin-American forestry and forest products commission
FAO mission to Nicaragua
As reviewed by the Fifth Session of Conference
At the Fifth Session of the FAO Conference held in Washington in November 1949, the Director-General of FAO and the Director of the Division of Forestry and Forest Products submitted to the delegates a number of documents outlining the work - past, present and future - of the Organization in regard to forestry and forest products. A condensation of these documents is presented for the information of the readers of UNASYLVA.
The field of forestry is very wide compared with the resources of FAO and so many projects have been recommended by successive sessions of the FAO Conference, by regional conferences, and by meetings of specialists that the most rigorous selection of items for the future work program was necessary. The Director-General had to select a relatively few key projects, placing the emphasis on those which were likely to have early and practical results and in which FAO could take some effective action.
After thorough discussion by delegates to the last FAO Conference, general approval was given to the program of work for 1950.
One-third of the world's population living in Europe, North America Oceania, and the Soviet Union consumes 80 percent of all construction timber and '90 percent of all pulp. Even in these regions; the demand for more and better housing and for more paper will persist and grow stronger. The 1,500 million people living in the underdeveloped regions need wood too. Economic progress during the next decades will be accompanied by increases in the effective demand for forest products of all kinds by the less developed nations. A progressive expansion of the world's wood supplies achieved in conjunction with efficient management of the world's forest resources, therefore constitutes an outstanding objective of FAO.
For practical purposes the basic methods for achieving a progressive increase in wood supplies may be grouped under three headings:
1. Reduction of waste and loss through adequate forest protection, better logging methods, improved industrial conversion and preservation more efficient domestic and international distribution, and scientific utilization. The combined effects of these measures could be to double present supplies of forest products without any increase in total drain on the forest.
2. Increased yields from existing forests by application of improved silvicultural techniques to forests, now under management, the opening up and rational development of presently inaccessible forests, improvement in productivity of degraded forests, and efficient management of all forests in accordance with forestry principles. So far only one-third of the world's forests have been taken into use, and, because of inadequate management, the average yield is not quite one ton per hectare per year, compared with a possible yield of two tons.
3. Increased supplies from new forests through afforestation of bare soils (which will also assist in the restoration of soil fertility, maintenance of adequate water supplies, and restraint of soil erosion), and reforestation of denuded forest soils. It is believed that such afforestation and reforestation should and could extend to many hundred millions of hectares.
Almost every country in the world offers scope for the application of the above basic methods. Yet from country to country and especially in different regions of the world there are considerable differences in emphasis. FAO has evolved a pattern of action in three phases: first, visits by staff members to study and define the problems of the region; second, the calling of a regional conference to provide governments with an opportunity to reach an agreed view about forestry problems of their region and to decide on the action necessary to solve them; third, the setting up of permanent intergovernmental machinery, assisted by a regional working group staffed by FAO officers.
DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONAL FORESTRY PROGRAMS
Reduction of Loss and Waste
Activities during 1949
Advisory assistance has been given several governments on providing adequate forest protection and in establishing forest fire control organizations.
FAO has received and analyzed lists of requirements for forest industry equipment from various member countries and collected data on all types of logging and transport equipment and processing machinery produced in the major manufacturing countries. This documentation has been made use of by the representatives of many countries contemplating the modernization of their extraction methods.
A study on the More Rational Use of Wood has been made by the Chairman of FAO's Technical Committee on Mechanical Wood Technology. This deals with practices in European countries for the elimination of waste in the conversion and utilization of timber, and embodies a code of measures to save timber in building and construction through better design and technique. If adopted by governments, the recommendations contained in this report will go far to reduce timber requirements while assuring more efficient utilization of the supplies available.
· Arrangements will be made for regional forestry offices to act as centers for the collection of information with regard to the outbreak and development of epidemics and to notify all-countries which might be threatened.
· FAO has assembled and analyzed methods of forest fire control worked out in various countries. The information collected will be published in 1950, as an aid to governments in organizing and putting into practice programs of forest fire control where these are needed.
· Great confusion now exists with respect to the local names of many trees and the timber obtained from them, and this confusion seriously retards efforts to establish markets for many useful species. An attempt to harmonize nomenclature of important species will be made with the co-operation of various experts. The project will be of primary value to under-developed countries and to users of tropical hardwoods.
· FAO intends to carry forward the work toward standardization with respect to structural grades, sizes, and trade names of timbers. A special meeting will be held in the Far East in the middle of 1950. In Latin America standardization of hardwood and softwood lumber sizes will continue to be studied by the Latin-American countries.
· A staff study will be made of past experience in feeding livestock with fodder derived from wood waste, and the possibility and probable costs for extending its production to new regions. Information collected will be published.
· The Fifth Session of the FAO Conference noted with approval the work of FAO with regard to forestry requisites and urged its continuation and extension to all phases of logging, transportation, the information on types and procure and primary conversion equipment, since ment sources of such equipment can be of great value to member governments, especially in connection with the expanded program for technical assistance. Arrangements for publication of the data assembled will be explored.
Increased Yields from Existing Forests
Activities during 1949
Technical advice on forest utilization plans has been given to several governments. The FAO missions to Poland and Thailand were accompanied by forestry experts whose recommendations cover every phase of forest development. Missions have now visited Nicaragua and Austria to study the forest development possibilities in those countries. Special reports have been prepared by staff officers on forest development prospects in the Paraná pine region of Brazil, in areas of Colombia, and on general possibilities for agricultural and forestry development and for settlement of the Tingo Maria and Pucalpa regions in Peru. A report has been prepared also on colonization and development prospects in the Amazon basin. Visits by FAO staff members to discuss national forestry programs with authorities concerned have been made to most of the countries of the Far East, Latin America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
In Europe a tangible result of the ECE Timber Committee's work has been the so-called "timber equipment project" designed to increase European softwood exports by making available to certain producing countries several million dollars worth of forestry equipment. This project developed by FAO, the ECE Timber Committee, and the International Bank, has resulted in the Bank making loans totaling US $5 million to Yugoslavia and Finland. At the same time the project has resulted in bilateral agreements between European equipment manufacturing countries and timber-producing countries.
As part of a project that is still in a preliminary stage,: a card index has been built up covering between 400 and 500 technicians who wish to emigrate from Europe and are registered as "displaced persona" with the International Refugee Organization. FAO is circularizing certain countries in the Far East and Latin America asking for their requirements for technicians. When this information is obtained, lists of names will be submitted to the governments concerned, who can then make arrangements directly with IRO, if they wish to employ any of: the persons listed.
The Latin-American Forestry and Forest Products Commission has studied the question of creating a Latin-American Research and Training Institute as recommended at the Teresopolis Conference in 1948 and made these recommendations:
- Plan the institute as a technical body, based on a complete research program and establish it as soon as possible;
- Confine the educational work to advanced and specialized training
- Establish a central unit in a readily accessible location and have five regional research stations, for Central America the tropical Andes, the Amazon River Valley, the Rivers Plata and Paraná, and the Southern Andes.
FAO's Latin-American Working Group for Forestry and Forest Products has since prepared a draft report on the organization and functioning of the institute, including a budget.
· Agreement on certification is needed: in order that forest authorities who may purchase seeds and plants from other countries can be assured of the origin and qualities of the material. National regulations on plant quarantine are rightly intended to prevent the introduction of injurious insects and plant diseases. In some eases, however, they may hinder the movement of badly needed forest planting stock. FAO is investigating existing conditions regarding certification and quarantine and will prepare draft agreements for consideration by regional Forestry and Forest Products Commissions.
· FAO will continue to co-operate with the International Refugee Organization, the International Labour Organisation and other organizations in an effort to put into effect the recommendation of the Teresopolis Conference that professional foresters and other technicians anxious to emigrate from Europe be given assistance in moving to Latin America. Systematic investigations of the needs of Latin-American countries for such personnel will be continued.
· Efforts will be continued towards the establishment of the Latin-American Forest Research and Training Institute within the next two years.
· FAO will study possible locations for the setting up of integrated forest industries with particular reference to Latin America.
· A systematic study of modern forest inventory methods, commenced in 1949, will be continued. This will include ground surveys, air surveys, and methods of using them in combinations. At the request of many member governments early publication of the information collected will be undertaken.
· Advice will continue to be given to governments regarding specific forest development plans, and technical missions will be organized on request.
Increased Supplies from New Forests
Activities during 1949
In the recommendations of the conference held at Mysore in 1949 much emphasis was laid on measures for soil conservation, control of grazing to prevent undue interference with forest growth, careful regulation of shifting cultivation by both nomadic and settled populations and its gradual replacement by systems of permanent agriculture, large-scale afforestation and reforestation, and the improvement and modernization of forestry practices in general.
Advice has now been given on the creation of Citizen Conservation Corps as one means of carrying out certain reforestation and afforestation programs.
In Europe reforestation as a means of avalanche and torrent control is being studied by the European Forestry and Forest Products Commission. The Mediterranean Subcommission is studying the introduction of exotic species for reforestation in Mediterranean countries.
· A study is being undertaken of artificial regeneration methods, highly developed in some countries, including introducing new and valuable species, securing seed supplies, operating tree nurseries, and conducting planting operations. The information collected will be published, if possible, in 1950.
· A staff study will be undertaken of the problems arising from the damage done to forests by uncontrolled grazing with a view to improving land utilization through co-ordination of grazing and forestry. The study will stress the importance of proper land use and adequate vegetative cover, not only from the standpoint of grass feed for cattle but also for watershed protection. The Conference on Land Utilization in Tropical Regions to be held in the summer of 1950 in Ceylon, in addition to the agricultural aspects, will, it is hoped, provide full opportunity for discussion of the various forestry aspects of the problem.
· FAO will start demonstration projects early in 1950 in Cyprus to train technicians from Near East countries in soil conservation and reforestation work. An advisory mission will also be undertaken to various countries of the region in 1950, and possibly also to countries of Mediterranean Europe.
PROMOTION OF REGIONAL FOREST POLICIES
Europe - Activities to end of 1949
In Europe the postwar problem, as it appeared from a firsthand cheek of the situation, was as follows: Real timber needs were enormous and an acute timber crisis seemed inevitable. Most countries lacking foreign exchange, had to lower their import demands to under half of what they really needed.
To help solve the problem FAO arranged for 27 European nations to get together at the International Timber Conference at Marianske-Lazne. Here it was established that in 1948 Europe would need about three million more standards of lumber than it could possibly obtain under existing conditions. A bold step had to be taken. The nations agreed to cut 10 percent mote trees than they had planned and to use lumber only where it was absolutely necessary. This gave Europe about two and a half million extra standards of badly needed timber that year.
However, this drastic solution meant a further drain on the already depleted forests of Europe. FAO therefore set up a European Forestry and Forest Products Commission, which has the responsibility of promoting all aspects of good forest management. The large-scale regeneration and replanting of forests recommended at Marianske-Lazne to offset the temporary drastic increase in cuttings are now being carried out.
While the FAO program was thus being put into practice, FAO and the Economic Commission for Europe set up a Timber Committee within the framework of ECE to continue work on the emergency problems of the European timber supply. Towards the end of 1949, the gap between Europe's immediate timber needs and supplies, which two years previously had seemed one of the most alarming aspects of European reconstruction was temporarily closed. Now the task is to obtain more timber or the longer term needs of the European communities. (The balancing of supplies and demand is referred to later under the section on commodity problems.)
Latin America - Activities during 1948-49
In Latin America the same program was followed. An over-all appraisal was made of the timber situation. It was estimated that the virgin forests of Latin America covered over 850 million hectares of land, made up of a great variety of species, but that despite this wealth, Latin America imported perhaps twice as much wood as it exported. The problem was to discover how these timber lands could be developed. In May 1948 18 countries attended the Latin-American Conference on Forestry and Forest Products at Teresopolis, Brazil.
The achievement of the Teresopolis Conference was the unanimous agreement of all interested governments of Latin America to press forward with the establishment of concrete action programs of development. Aided by FAO, the countries started listing their immediate equipment and credit requirements. They recognized the need for complete inventories of their forest resources, the extension of national forest services, and the setting up of research and training facilities on an international basis for all Latin-American countries. The nature of the obstacles to be overcome is well illustrated by the problem of training sufficient foresters. Latin America needs over 1,000 professional and over 2,000 semi-professional trained foresters to assure the proper management of its forest resources. Yet, today there are only some 300 professional and 450 semi-professional foresters at work, and many of these need more intensive training.
To keep in intimate touch with the national forestry plans, FAO set up a permanent Forestry and Forest Products Office for Latin America in Rio de Janeiro early in 1949 With the establishment of a Latin-American Forestry and Forest Products Commission, which has already held two sessions, FAO's preparatory action was completed for this region.
At its first meeting this Commission adopted an initial report on the amount of capital and equipment needed for the development of the continental forests. Further investigation revealed another aspect of the question, namely, that leek of equipment is not the real obstacle to development. Before equipment can be used there must be an industry capable of using it, and at present such an industry can be found only in a few instances, and on a very small scale.
It is hoped to establish one or two demonstration projects of integrated forest industries on a commercial scale. This can be achieved by gradually building up a series of complementary industries such as a sawmill, a plywood mill, a pulp mill and possibly plants capable of manufacturing a number of chemical products. In this way the waste from one operation becomes raw material for the others and yields, which in isolated industries are as low as 20 percent of the volume of wood cut, can be raised to 60 or 80 percent.
This approach could supply the key to open up one of the world's largest storehouses of renewable wealth, capable of supplying almost any kind of product both for the home needs of the people of Latin America and for export to other continents.
Asia and the Far East - Activities during 1949
The Far East is characterized by areas of abundance and many more of extreme poverty of forest resources. The very dense populations in some countries of this region have to get along with a small fraction of the wood available to the people of Europe or the Americas. This shortage of wood is largely due to centuries of forest destruction and poor management. So great has been the need for food in many countries that cultivation of crops has been attempted on hillsides on which forests should never have been cut. In many areas, forests have been completely cut down and the areas they once occupied are now barren and infertile. The resulting widespread erosion of the farm lands has today reached alarming proportions and calls for extensive reforestation. Meanwhile, through the sound development of the remaining unexploited forests, the increase of timber experts from the more heavily forested areas to other parts of the region, and the better use of existing supplies much can be done to relieve the two most urgent needs, namely, fuelwood and cheap lumber for housing and other construction work.
In this region FAO has completed the first two phases of its program - a survey of the problems of the region, and the calling of a regional conference to discuss these problems and decide on ways of solving them. After preliminary contacts had been made with forestry officials of the Far East, a Forestry and Timber Utilization Conference was called at Mysore, India, in 1949, the first international meeting ever held on the forestry problems of Asia and the Pacific.
On the immediate problem of getting more fuelwood and charcoal to the villages, the delegates at this Conference agreed on a variety of measures for governments to translate into action. Much more timber is available than is generally recognized, but it must be moved from areas of plenty to areas of scarcity and it must be used economically. Modern charcoal kilns and modern sawmills would reduce waste in the use of wood and thus stretch available supplies.
On the outstanding problem of soil erosion control, the Conference asked each government of the region to set up a central authority to plan and carry out good land use and soil conservation practices. It proposed that laws be passed in each country enabling the government to act whenever these practices are neglected, either on state-owned or private lands. It also called for bold schemes for protecting forests at the headwaters of the great rivers of this region, as well as for large-scale reforestation projects. All these measures will be promoted actively during the third phase of the program which starts in 1950, with the setting up of the Asia and Far East Forestry and Forest Products Commission.
· Sessions of the three regional Forestry and Forest Products Commissions will be held towards the end of 1950. These sessions will amongst other topics initiate consideration of means of arriving at co-ordinated regional forest policies.
· A statement of basic principles of forest policy is now being prepared by FAO to assist member governments in the formulation of their national forest policies and in the application of such principles to their forestry programs. This statement will be submitted for consideration to the 1950 sessions of the regional Commissions and subsequently with their comments to the next session of the Conference of FAO.
· The Mediterranean Subcommission of the European commission will hold its second meeting in Algiers in May 1950.
· Work will continue on establishing the principles on which governments should determine and define that area of their country's whole forest domain which should be maintained as "managed forest" in the interests of the national economy.
No intelligent plans for the systematic increase of wood production or for the efficient management of forests can be made without reliable and periodic information on forest resources, supplies of forest products, present and prospective needs in various countries, and general technological progress. There are, therefore, certain basic services which FAO must provide.
Activities to end of 1949
In the field of forestry and forest products, FAO has undertaken and published an inventory of world forest resources, three statistical yearbooks on production, consumption, and international trade in forest products, and with ECE has developed quarterly timber statistics for Europe.
· Forest products statistics questionnaires will be distributed to all governments early in the year and the Yearbook of Forest Products Statistics 1950 will be published towards the end of the year.
· Quarterly issues of the ECE/FAO Timber Statistics Bulletin will be published at Geneva. Besides statistical information each issue contains market reports covering most countries of Europe.
· Studies will be made of wood consumption trends in selected countries in an effort to remedy the present lack of direct statistics which causes serious difficulties in estimating human needs for forest products. These studies will be undertaken in conjunction with other continuing activities in the field of statistics and research
· A European conference on forestry and forest products statistics will be arranged for early in 1951 to devise improved means for complying with particular European needs in a manner that will permit the inclusion of the statistical results within a general framework of statistical procedure adapted for worldwide use. In the light of the findings of the conference and the desires of governments in other regions, further regional conferences may be convened.
· Data on farm forests and forest products industries will be collected in the course of the 1950 World Census of Agriculture.
Activities to end of 1949
The Division has developed UNASYLVA, a review of forestry and forest products as its medium for keeping in touch with officials, specialists, forest industries, and the timber trade of all countries. Appearing in English, French, and Spanish editions, UNASYLVA performs a variety of functions, including (a) the discussion of FAO's major objectives, (b) publication of commodity reports; (c) spreading of regular information about the activities of FAO and its Division of Forestry and Forest Products, (d) reporting on current developments affecting forestry and forest products in all countries of the world. Six issues of UNASYLVA were published in 1948 (Vol. II) and six issues in 1949 (Vol. III). Arrangements have been made for the regular issuance of an international bibliography of forestry and forest products publications. This is distributed with UNASYLVA.
· UNASYLVA will be published on a quarterly basis through 1950 (Vol. IV).
· A study of existing education and training facilities in forestry, started under the 1949 program, is nearing completion and will appear in UNASYLVA. More general studies on extension work in forestry and forest co-operatives are also to appear.
· In addition, a study completed in 1949 of the essential elements of policy law, and administration for different types of national forestry situations and various stages of forest development will be published in 1950.
· Means are being explored of disseminating technical information with the help of microfilm reproduction, while making sure that these activities create no conflict with copyright regulations and the legitimate interests of publishers and authors of technical publications.
· The cataloguing and expansion of the former CIS Forestry Library, now established at the Palais des Nations Geneva, will be continued. This extensive collection is at the service of member nations for reference purposes.
Activities to end of 1949
While new technical knowledge can only be applied at the regional and national levels, it is important to centralize at headquarters the collection and dissemination of new knowledge and the results of research. For technical advice FAO relies strongly on committees of individual experts, since its staff is neither competent nor expected to under take its own research in the major technical fields. Such technical committees meeting as necessary, have been established for: (a) Forestry Education, (b) Forest Research, (c) Unexploited Forests, (d) Mechanical Wood Technology and (e) Wood Chemistry.
The Committee on Forestry Education held an informal meeting in July 1949 at Helsinki to consider a study on employment and education in forestry made by the FAO staff. The Committee drew up suggestions for minimum requirements in facilities and staff for organizing forestry schools in countries where they do not now exist.
The Committee on Forest Research has not been active nor will it be unless assignments are given to FAO that cannot be handled by the facilities at the disposal of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, for which FAO provides secretariat services.
The Committee on Unexploited Forests has held only one meeting, in 1947, at which recommendations to FAO were made on the development of tropical forests including silvicultural and industrial difficulties, for the guidance of the regional offices in Latin America and the Far East.
The Committee on Wood Chemistry held two meetings in 1948 and one in 1949 to discuss the latest advances in wood chemistry, a science which is capable of making a very substantial contribution to increased supplies of a wide range of new products. It is closely following the development of high-yield pulping methods and the use of new raw materials such as tropical woods, temperate hardwoods straw and other sources of fibers. At its last meeting the Committee formulated two conclusions of great practical significance: (1) the integration of forest industries is making rapid progress in several countries and no longer raises any technical difficulties; (2) the use of hardwoods and tropical species for the manufacture of paper is now proved possible and has given excellent results. The application of these conclusions, through the Technical Assistance program, might change both the traditional structure of forest industries and also their geographic distribution.
The preliminary efforts of the Committee on Mechanical Wood Technology reached a point in 1948 where FAO was able to call a first world conference on the subject at Geneva in September 1949. This Conference was able to adopt unanimous recommendations regarding the most important strength tests for timber. If countries carry out the recommendations, the rational utilization of wood will have made a big step forward.
Consultations on the international plane were also effected in the summer of 1949 in connection with the Third World Forestry Congress organized by the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Scientific Conference on the Conservation and Utilization of Resources, held at Lake Success.
· A second conference on Mechanical Wood Technology will be organized, probably for early 1951, to consider progress in standardization with respect to the testing of fiberboard, plywood and related products, and the findings of the experts co-operating with FAO in this field.
· A fifth meeting of the Wood Chemistry Committee will be organized for 1951. Progress reports on the activities of FAO in this field and of the work of members of the Committee will be distributed in 1950.
· Secretariat services will be afforded, through the European regional forestry office, to the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and to the International Poplar Commission.
· The Fifth Session of the FAO Conference commended the General Report of the Third World Forestry Congress to the close attention of all governments. Certain parts of this report contain recommendations for international action. In 1950 FAO will assist in the implementation of these recommendations by such means as may prove practicable.
· In view of the recommendation of the Third World Forestry Congress that FAO call an international meeting on Tropical Forestry, and considering the importance of the subject for the expanded program of Technical Assistance preliminary consultations on this matter will be held amongst experts attending the Ceylon Conference on Land Utilization in Tropical Regions.
Increased production is useless if it is not related to improved consumption. For the most part the desired expansion of production will take place only if producers are assured adequate markets. Despite all evidence of the long-term needs for forest products, there will be times when effective demand is insufficient to absorb available supplies. Surpluses, whether genuine or merely apparent, have most undesirable repercussions upon employment in forests and forest industries, as well as on forest management.
It is therefore a fundamental task of FAO to supply regular information concerning supplies, requirements, and trends with regard to those commodities which fall within its purview.
Activities to end of 1949
Information on commodities has been supplied by periodic reports in UNASYLVA on softwoods, plywood, railway ties, pitprops, fiberboards, and wood pulp, and by quarterly European market reports in the ECE/FAO publication Timber Statistics. Special reports were contained in such FAO documents as State of Food and Agriculture - 1949 and Report on World Commodity Problems.
To arrive at a generally agreed view on the situation and prospects for wood pulp, FAO called Conference on World Pulp Problems at Montreal in April 1949. This was the first important meeting of industry and government representatives from the major pulp producing and consuming countries. The Conference noted that world pulp production had increased from 24 million tons in 1937 to 28 million tons in 1948, and estimated a further expansion to 37 million tons by 1955. Requirements are expected to keep in step with this development, and the estimates show an approximate balance between world production and consumption from 1948 through 1955.
· FAO will continue to keep the world situation and outlook for forest products under continuous review. Regular commodity reports will be published in UNASYLVA, and market reports for European countries in the ECE/FAO Timber Statistics bulletin.
· FAO will continue to provide secretariat services for the ECE Timber Committee which is expected to hold two sessions in 1950.
· The marketing of Latin-American forest products will be followed by the Latin-American Forestry and Forest Products Commission. The commission for Asia and the Far East will endeavor to ascertain the import requirements and export availabilities of the region, with a view to arriving at a reasonable balance between supplies and demand.
· The world wood pulp situation will be kept under review. It is recognize that there may be difficulties in achieving the desired expansion of output in Europe due to shortage of pulpwood. Special attention will be paid to this aspect.
· Improvement in the statistical background for commodity problems will be attempted as indicated in an earlier section.
The second session of the Latin-American Forestry and Forest Products Commission opened on 14 November 1949 at Lima, Peru. Delegates from Bolivia Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador France, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Venezuela attended, together with representatives of the Organization of American States, International Refugee Organization, International Labour Organisation, and Servicio Cooperativo Inter Americano de Producción de Alimentos. Mr. Jorge Succar Rahme, who heads the Forestry Subcommittee of Peru's National FAO Committee, was elected Chairman of the session. The secretariat was provided by FAO's Rio de Janeiro office.
One of the earlier items on the agenda which aroused much discussion was the organization and functioning of the proposed Latin-American Forest Research and Training Institute. The project, as drawn up by FAO, was approved in principle, so that negotiations can now go forward with the governments which have made offers for location of the Institute and the regional experiment stations, and arrangements can be made for financing the whole undertaking. A proposition to establish a Soil Conservation Institute had been put forward at another FAO meeting; the Commission felt that a multiplicity of separate institutes must be avoided and suggested that problems of soil conservation might well be taken care of by a division of the Forest Research and Training Institute.
Further progress was made regarding the course which the development of forest production and the timber trade should take in Latin America. The secretariat was directed to obtain further information on specifications, available quantities, and prices of logging and industrial equipment required by several countries; and the Commission laid stress on the great need for an expansion of technical assistance, which FAO could properly undertake under the new United Nations Technical Assistance program. It was pointed out that trade must be developed in all forest products - not only softwoods, although the emphasis was apt to be put on them, but also hardwoods and secondary products for which good markets can be found through concerted action by all interested parties. Grading practices presently in use in Europe and North America are to be made widely known in Latin America.
With regard to standardization of dimensions of sawn lumber, it appeared that most Latin-American countries officially used the metric system while the lumber trade in the same countries used the board foot as a unit. The Commission recommended that one system be adopted after consultation with the Pan-American Committee on technical Standards. Standardized commercial dimensions and descriptive terms were suggested for hardwood lumber, and a preliminary list drawn up of uniform trade names for the more common timbers.
Some time was spent in considering ways of improving forestry statistics. The Commission recommended that countries centralize responsibility for the compilation of such statistics in a single office or official who could communicate directly with FAO. Statistical matters will probably be considered by a special meeting to be called at a later date, in keeping with a recommendation of the Fifth Session of the FAO Conference.
Finally, the Commission heard proposals presented by the governments of Italy and France with regard to recruitment of technical personnel from those countries to work in Latin-American countries; the International Refugee Organization is also closely watching the possibilities for immigration of qualified displaced persons. Progress in this field will again be considered at the next session of the Commission which will be held in Santiago, Chile.
In compliance with a request of the Government of Nicaragua, the Director-General of FAO appointed a technical mission to study the agricultural and forestry problems of that country. The Mission was headed by Dr. H. C. Trumble of FAO's Division of Agriculture, accompanied by Dr. R. E. Patterson of the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, specialist in livestock and grazing, and Mr. R. D. Garver, Chief of the Forest Survey of the U. S. Forest Service. Mr. Horacio Recart of FAO's Division of Forestry and Forest Products acted as technical secretary.
The Mission was away for two months and returned in February 1950. Accompanied by officials appointed by the Nicaraguan Government, members of the Mission made extensive trips throughout the country, familiarizing themselves with the agricultural and forest conditions found in the different regions. A general reconnaissance was first made by plane, followed by journeys by ear, jeep boat, and mules to reach most of the agricultural and forest lands of the country. Contact was made in the field with numerous farmers, industrialists, and government officials who furnished valuable information on the problems facing their work. Visits to the extensive forests of the Atlantic watershed and the Pacific slopes and to numerous sawmills and rood industries were made a part of the study of the prospects for the utilization of the country's forest resources.
Since the experience gained in the adjoining countries could have a bearing on the development of Nicaraguan agriculture, the Mission paid short visits to Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador. The Instituto Interamericano de Ciencias Agrícolas in Costa Rica, the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana in Honduras, and the Centro Nacional de Agronomía, directed by the Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in co-operation with the Government of El Salvador, furnished much useful information concerning the work carried out in the respective countries in the fields of research, technical assistance, and education.
The work of the Mission in Nicaragua was greatly facilitated by the co-operation received from the Government, non-governmental institutions, and private individuals.
The Mission's report and recommendations will be published both in English and Spanish.