A common complaint is that the increasing complexity of forestry leaves little opportunity for foresters - using the term in its widest possible sense - to keep abreast of the spate of literature in many languages on developments in their own or related fields of interest.
Appalled by the multitude of ideas and knowledge to consider in the limited time at his disposal, the forester wants on occasion to sit back and take a bird's-eye view of all the things that forestry has come to mean and what they portend. The papers listed above, read against the background of the results of the 1953 world inventory of forest resources, are intended to help him do so.
Written by staff members of the Forestry Division of FAO as a contribution to the Fourth World Forestry Congress being organized by India for next December, the papers are meant as broad surveys to set the stage for the discussions on the main topics of the Congress program. They try to offer ideas on some crucial points worthy of detailed debate. They do not propound dogmas - to which foresters are notoriously allergic - and if, as any glance at the proceedings of the three previous World Forestry Congresses may reveal, they do not say anything very new, they try at least to show the changing thinking of the world against which forestry must be adjudged.
World Forestry Congresses provide excellent opportunities for sharing ideas and giving stimulus to a wider use of knowledge. They also afford opportunities for technical men to highlight three or four outstanding problems on which FAO and its Member Governments should concentrate attention.
International organizations are mechanisms created by nations to serve their own ends, and the machinery that FAO represents now makes it possible to provide expert consideration and action on practically any problem of importance falling within the competence of the Organization. The Organization's program is approved and authorized by governmental representatives sitting as the Conference or Council of FAO. These representatives depend for advice on technical experts.
The Fourth World Forestry Congress is an occasion when such experts from many countries can concert and voice this advice.