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The work of FAO

Technical meeting on forest grazing
Technical assistance activities
Near East poplar conference

Technical meeting on forest grazing

A Technical Meeting on Forest Grazing, the first of its kind to be organized, was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 29 March to 3 April 1954. A total of 41 representatives of 24 governments, 1 official observers from the Foreign Operations Administration (U.S.A.) and IUFRO, and several unofficial observers participated.

1 Austria, Burma, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, U.K., U.S.A.

The Meeting was opened with a welcoming address by the Director-General of FAO, following which the Director of the Forestry Division outlined the considerations which had led to the organization of the meeting.

Officers were then elected with J.F. Pechanec (U.S.A.) as Chairman, and R. Koblet (Switzerland) and A. Latessa (Italy) first and second Vice-chairman respectively. J.P. Challot (Morocco) was appointed as rapporteur.


In the report of the Meeting, available on request, delegates recognized that, in addition to land regarded by all as forest land, there are extensive surfaces that are of considerable concern to the forester even if trees are sparse or altogether absent, or if the stands are of relatively poor quality or even scarce or irregular; in using the terms forest range and forest grazing, reference to such lands is intended.

In certain countries of the humid-temperate zones where ecological conditions are particularly favorable and a-high degree of technical development has been reached, such land surfaces are being utilized intensively, sometimes with a complete separation of lands for grazing and of lands to be used for timber. Elsewhere these surfaces are generally utilized for extensive, and frequently indiscriminate and unregulated, grazing by cattle or wild animals. They should all be the object of a rational policy for conservation and utilization within the general framework of a national policy aimed at the best balance between crop-lands, forests and grazing lands for the whole of a country.

For any country there are certain basic principles which should govern the formulation and implementation of an adequate forest grazing policy, the Meeting drafted the principles which it considered should be recommended to governments and referred them for consideration to the regional Forestry Commissions of FAO.

Technical aspects

In order to protect and improve the production of timber, forage, soil and water, grazing of forest ranges must be managed on a scientific basis taking into account the requirements of the forage plants, the trees and the soil.

The Meeting was of the opinion that:

1. the grazing of forest range must be regulated to the extent required by the overall land use plan for the other resources;

2. fire can be a useful but also a dangerous tool in the management of forest grazing areas and must therefore be used with the utmost discrimination;

3. since forest grazing lands often make up a large proportion of important watersheds, the manner in which grazing is managed on watersheds has a definite effect on the quality, quantity and period of release of water that is delivered into the streams;

4. flock migration is often a desirable and necessary form of management in order to utilize the forages in the season in which they are most useful and available but that some means of administrative control may well be needed to prevent too many herds from moving into limited areas;

5. special measures might be justified to improve forest range lands, such as by reseeding, transplanting of plants or sprigs, applying fertilizers to the range, controlling competing and undesirable range plants, and control of insect and rodent pests;

6. in most regions of the world forest range can furnish only a part of the total yearlong forage requirements of livestock and considerable forage must be produced on other ranges, from improved pastures, and other forage and fodder crops;

7. herbivorous wild animals must be taken into account in range and forest management planning, and must be kept in balance with the forage available through regular harvest of the animals;

8. supplies of fodder from the foliage, flowers and fruit of trees by direct browsing, lopping or other ways is acceptable only if strictly controlled.


The range resource on government owned or controlled forest lands is a public trust which should be managed and utilized for the benefit of the country as a whole. The question of what lands are to be dedicated to forest range depends essentially on the outcome of government land-use allocation. This should be based upon a sound technical appreciation of the potentialities for grazing, timber, watershed, and other desirable values.

The administration of the forest lands in question should be by scientifically and technically qualified administrators.

The closer integration there is between the use of forest range and the grazing and fodder production of other lands, the greater will be the contribution of both to the welfare of the country. The objective of such integration should be to establish balanced economic livestock-producing units designed to obtain suitable returns from all the land and reasonable financial return to the owner of the livestock.

Co-operation should be maintained at all levels between the administrative organization and the users of the forage range. The collaboration of livestock owners using government forest range should be sought in the development and application of forest policy, rules and regulations and such individuals should be encouraged to recognize their role in the proper use of such lands.

It is important that administration be efficiently decentralized.


Research should be conducted by well-trained scientists and fully coordinated with other forest and agricultural research.

Where it is not possible for individual countries to undertake adequate research to meet their needs, it may be possible for several countries to unite in regional programs. Such regionalization should eliminate duplication and facilitate co-ordination in the development of improved practices.

It should be the policy of all research organizations to publish the results of their research promptly and to foster the interchange of information on programs.

Education and training

In view of the lack of personnel specifically trained tin the field of forest range management, this subject is of particular importance.

Forest grazing programs can be efficiently developed only on the basis of fully trained personnel. The upper grades should have had a university or college education furnishing a sound background of understanding of forest range management. If facilities for teaching range management are not available within the country, it will usually be necessary to send promising young men to other countries having such facilities. Additional schools teaching forest range management are urgently needed in many parts of the world. Regional educational centers may prove more economic than to endeavor to develop educational facilities in each country.

For some time personnel necessarily engaged in forest range management and lacking adequate grounding must be trained while on the job and through special short courses.

There is a general need, moreover for training in extension method.

Technical assistance

Every effort should be made to extend FAO technical assistance in forest range management to all interested countries. It was suggested that:

1. FAO forestry experts sent out under the technical assistance program be directed to give attention to the problems of forest ranges and to help governments set up policies applicable to those lands;

2. FAO forestry experts on range management be encouraged to extend assistance on range lands other than forests in countries where there is no FAO agricultural expert;

3. in the absence of FAO forestry experts on range management, forest services in interested countries be advised to seek close liaison with agricultural technical assistance experts dealing with the general aspects of pasture and allied problems,- such as water spreading, and to submit their particular forest range problems to those experts for consideration;

4. forest services be encouraged to send qualified representatives to regional seminars on range and pastures organized by FAO;

5. the subject of forest grazing policy be included in the programs of any forest policy seminars organized by FAO.

Technical assistance activities

Over the past two years since the technical assistance program of the United Nations has been in full operation, forestry missions have operated in 35 countries and 97 experts have completed various assignments. Activities at present are on a somewhat reduced scale, due to financial stringency of, it is hoped, a transitory nature, but FAO still has more than 25 forestry specialists working in 15 countries. It is expected that these figures will increase substantially during the latter part of 1954 as the program is allocated more funds. The manner in which the whole program is now financed, on a year-to-year basis, is not a happy arrangement and ways are being sought of permitting; the program to operate with more flexibility and continuity.

Burma. Following the work of the initial mission on the development of new forest industries, an officer has been investigating how best to combine logging by elephants from the felling site with mechanized equipment used for later phases of extraction. An experimental and training logging unit is expected to be in operation this year. Trial operations of a pilot kiln drying and impregnation plant have started. Investigations continue on the behavior and durability under tropical conditions of the sample houses constructed of chip-boards made in Germany from Burmese secondary timber species (See "A contribution to Tropical Forest Utilization" by K. A. Miedler, Unasylva, Vol. VII, No. 1). Experience with these houses, shown in the photograph, will help determine whether mass production of such boards can be considered economically sound.

Figure 1 - Houses constructed of chip-boards made in Germany from Burmese secondary timber species

Paraguay. An officer continues to act as advisor on general policy and utilization matters. A number of developments are foreshadowed. Paraguay is prepared to take in a number of emigrants from Europe and possibly settlement may be combined with establishing new forest and agricultural industries.

Chile. A team of forestry experts has been making notable progress in Chile since 1951, advising on policy matters silviculture and management, and utilization. Its members have given instruction at the newly-established forestry faculty of the University of Santiago; one is in charge of the Llancacura logging and sawmilling training center established with equipment provided by FAO. The establishment of the Llancatura center, despite many difficulties, may prove one of more spectacular achievements of the mission.

Figure 2 - Senior students of the School of Forestry, University of Chile, after a day's work in the forest, walking home by a partly constructed road passing through forest land partly cleared by smallholders in Llancacura Reserve 3 kilometers from the sawmill.

Libya. A preliminary survey for the purpose of establishing a forest policy was made in 1951. Since 1952 another specialist has been at work on afforestation problems, sand-dune fixation, roadside planting and general encouragement of tree planting. Soil conservation measures, fruit-tree cultivation and management of esparto grass resources form part of the expert's work. He is also giving help in the formulation of forest laws and regulations.

Ceylon. An FAO officer is advising on the use of mechanized equipment for the clearing of land for new plantations and on the layout of tree nurseries. Another specialist has organized a pilot sawmill and wood -working shop for the training of local personnel. Machinery for this plant was provided by FAO, the Ceylon Government and the United Kingdom under the "Colombo Plan".

Figure - The saw maintenance and repair shop.

Mexico. Following the completion in 1953 of the work of the original broad forestry mission, an expert has been assigned as forestry advisor to the Nacional Financiera on the surveying and planned exploitation of forests. This body is concerned with a number of forest industry projects, and first priority is being given to the development of a cellulose factory and integrated forest industries at Michoacan. Another FAO officer has recently completed an assignment on cellulose research.

Iran. Three specialists have completed their assignments in Iran. An officer is now helping with the final organization of the new forest products laboratory, and acts as general advisor on the wood-using industries, including sawmills, veneer and plywood plants, furniture industry, mulch factories and paper and paperboard industries. A diagrammatic map showing distribution and types of forest is shown.

Figure 3 - Map showing distribution and types of forest

1. Caspian forests of the northern districts (3.3 million ha.).

2. Limestone mountainous forests in the northeastern districts (Juniperus forests, 1.3 million ha.)

3. Pistacio forests in the eastern, southern and southeastern districts (2.6 million ha.).

4. Oak forests in the central and western districts (10 million ha.).

5. Shrubs of the Kavir (desert) districts in the central and northeastern part of the country (I million ha.).

6. Sub-tropical forests of the southern coast (500,000 ha.).

Thailand. A specialist in sawmill organization is assisting in preparing plans for a thorough modernization of state-owned sawmills in Bangkok. Time studies are being made aiming at increasing the productivity of existing equipment and personnel; new machinery is being selected and arrangements made for its delivery and installation. The expert is also assisting in the planning of a new large sawmill.

Ethiopia. Since 1951, an officer has been acting as general advisor on forestry matters. The nucleus of a Forest Service has been formed, students have been sent to Australia for training, and basic forestry legislation has been enacted. The expert's work has included studies of the climatic conditions with a view to the further introduction of exotic species.

Honduras. A news item on p. 93 records the setting up of a Forest Service with an FAO forester and a forester of the United States "Servicio Tecnico Inter-Americano de Cooperación Agricola" (STICA) acting in an advisory capacity, particularly on forest law, timber export control, forest reservation, forest survey, seed collection and resin tapping. The FAO expert has, in addition, participated in a United Nations survey of the development possibilities of the five Central American republics.

Indonesia. As a preliminary to a general survey of the possibilities for new forest industries in Sumatra and Borneo to be undertaken during the latter part of 1954 an officer is assisting the Forest Service in establishing logging plans for three selected, typical areas. Recommendations are being made on the most efficient use of the mechanized equipment which is already at hand, and advice will be given on types of material still to be purchased.

Brazil. The original FAO mission submitted a comprehensive report to the Government of Brazil in October 1953 on forest development in the Amazon Valley. A new mission has embarked on the work of following up some of the major recommendations. Training centers are being organized, including a demonstration logging center a sawmilling and saw maintenance and repair school and a workshop for machinery maintenance. At the same time, an expert is working on interpretation of aerial photographs of selected forest areas for planning purposes.

Syria. A general forestry advisor is maintained in Syria. It is possible that a regional research center and a regional training institute may be established in the country. Syria possesses some fine forest areas. The photograph shows one of the finest, the Latakia forest, which is now being clearly demarcated on the ground.

Figure 4 - The Latakia forest

Near East poplar conference

Some 25 delegates attended a regional poplar conference at Damascus from 5-9 April, representing Cyprus, Egypt, France, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Spain, Syria, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The League of Arab States and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency also had observers present.

The Conference was opened at the Grand Sérail by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Hassan Atrach, in the presence of the Minister of Economics and numerous officials of the Syrian Government. Mr. Atrach was elected Chairman and Messrs. Rachis Habbal (Lebanon) and Yacoub Salti (Jordan) first and second Vice-chairman respectively. Mr. Osman Badran (Egypt) was appointed general rapporteur. Mr. Ph. Guinier, President of the International Poplar Commission, was elected Honorary Chairman of the Conference.

The various delegations reported on the poplar situation in their respective countries, and the meeting was able to note with satisfaction the measures taken by several governments to aid the development of poplar cultivation. There was a continually increasing demand for softwoods for the manufacture of containers, sawn wood, rotary cut veneer and paper pulp. Poplars were also needed for windbreaks in irrigated areas to protect field crops, and to improve natural woodlands growing along watercourses. They provided additional income to farmers and helped relieve the few remaining natural forests from undue pressure by providing a source of wood outside the forest proper.

The Conference recommended that in land-use planning in each country, land should be set aside to be devoted to poplar growing either as regular plantations, shelterbelts, windbreaks or avenues. Natural poplar stands should be improved by the planting of suitably selected poplar types. Direct or indirect assistance should be provided to poplar growers, and information on the best techniques to be employed both in the nursery and in field planting should be made available to them.

It was agreed that a survey should be made of the various poplar species to be found of cultivated clones (cultivars), using an approved identification form. To facilitate identification, 'populeta' should be established in each country and perhaps a central 'populetum' for the whole region.

The present practice of taking cuttings and sets indiscriminately from any tree often leads to excessive pruning. Under no circumstances should more than two-thirds of the total length of the tree be primed. It was recommended that poplar should only be raised from selected material in specialised nurseries and distributed by duly recognized agencies. Such a varietal control, for whose implementation a regional agreement was thought essential, should also aim at introducing into the countries of the region only poplars of certified origin and well-known properties. This measure was considered to be of the highest importance for the control of pests and diseases.

The question of spacing was carefully studied. For the planting of traditionally cultivated poplar types on irrigated lands and in association with field crops, a minimum spacing of 1.50 m, between rows, and of 0.75 m, between trees in the same row, was recommended. Four years after planting every second tree should be thinned and the same operation carried out again after another four years. Should there be a demand for bigger size timber, a wider spacing should be used. Experiments should be continued or started on the optimum spacing, especially for recently introduced cultivars.

It was highly desirable to undertake a thorough study of the physical properties of poplars cultivated or growing naturally in each country of the region. Governments were requested to arrange for work of this kind to be started as soon as possible. It was extremely important to improve present cutting techniques, but this could not be brought about suddenly as it would go against long-established traditions and customs. Forestry schools and wood-using industries could contribute much to this end.

The field excursions which were arranged in the week after the Conference included the Wadi Barada, Ghuta and Latakia areas in Syria, Boharré and the Bequaa valley in the Lebanon, and the Trodos and Paphos forests in Cyprus. The excellent preparation of these excursions resulted in a very fruitful exchange of ideas both as regards poplar cultivation in particular and forestry in general.

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