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Wood requirements in the near east by FAO staff

Excerpts from a paper prepared for the recent session of FAO's Near East Forestry Commission held in Teheran in September 1955 and intended to provide a background to discussions on forest policies in the region. The paper was not claimed to be exhaustive in scope but represented an initial attempt to describe the present production and consumption of industrial wood in the region and its neighborhood, and to assess future demand. Only the following countries were taken into consideration for the study: Afghanistan, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.

OF all the regions of the world, the Near East has the lowest percentage of woodlands. It possesses only 44 million hectares, covering some 4 percent of the total area. The following Table gives a comparison with the other regions.



Forests in million hectares

Forests, as percentage of land area

Accessible forests per capita in hectares









North America




Latin America




Far East




Africa a




Pacific Area




Near East








aExcludes Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya, which for the purposes of this paper are included in the Near East.

Only in Cyprus, Iran and Turkey does the forested area exceed 10 percent of the land area. There are vast areas which are completely treeless in the desert and sub-desert regions of Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Libya, Syria, Iraq and on the high plateaus, as well as many mountainous regions of Iran, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia.

The wildness of the topography of many parts of the region is shown by the percentage of inaccessible forests. Some 32 million hectares, or three-quarters of all stands, are estimated to be inaccessible, thus giving only 17 ares1 of accessible forested area per inhabitant, as compared with the world average of 70 ares, four times as great. If Turkey and Iran are excluded, the area of accessible forests per inhabitant is reduced to only 3 ares. Virgin stands of considerable extent are today only to be found on the northern slopes of the Elburz in Iran and in the mountains of Turkey, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and in Pakistan. Conifers are mostly concentrated in several countries in the temperate and mountainous zones and consist in the main of various pine species associated with junipers in dryer climates; for the region as a whole conifers account for one-fifth of the forest area currently utilized.

1are= 100 square meters or 119.6 square yards.

Low as these figures are, they nevertheless still exaggerate the extent of the region's resources. Many of these stands, both conifers and broadleaved, are degraded by overcutting, overgrazing, charcoal burning, lopping and fire, and are therefore thinly stocked with an extremely low volume of standing timber per hectare with a low annual growth. Considerable areas in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, etc., described as forests, are little more than brushwood and coppice and yield only fuelwood and wood for charcoal. Of Turkey's 10.5 million hectares of forests, more than 6.5 million consists of degraded high forest and coppice, so that the effective area for exploitation is less than 4 million hectares. Although Iran records 16 million hectares of accessible forests, only 3 million can be regarded as true forests.2

2The example of Syria, where detailed information is available, shows clearly that often only a fraction of the officially indicated forested land may be considered as forest. The 449,000 hectares of "forests" are composed as follows:

Recent developments have resulted in remarkable changes in the attitude towards forest depletion that has been prevailing for centuries. While formerly little interest was shown in the forests, which suffered severely in consequence, during the past few years governments have shown a growing interest in forestry. Initial steps have been taken to survey forest resources (Iraq, Libya, Syria), to build up or improve forestry administrations, to protect the forests (Ethiopia, Iran, Syria, Libya), to improve their management and exploitation (Pakistan, Iran, Turkey), to provide for the necessary forest research work (Syria, Iran, Pakistan), to extend the forest area and to develop appropriate forest industries (Pakistan). This fortunate and promising development has not yet, however, advanced very far.







Bare land to be reforested



Shrub land and grazing area



Land registered as forest but not capable of bearing forest



The growing stock in the 88.000 hectares of forest is on average 35 cubic meters per hectare, and annual gross increment does not exceed 1.5 cubic meters per hectare.

As in many thinly forested areas of Europe and the Far East, trees outside the forest are of particular importance, whether on crop-land or in orchards (e. g., apple-tree plantations in Lebanon or olive groves in Syria), for the provision of forage (fodder trees), for improving local climatic conditions for agriculture (shelterbelts, windbreaks), or as various row plantations alongside roads, rivers, and canals. Exact statistics are not as yet available but in order to give an idea of the importance of such trees growing outside the forests, it may be quoted for example that, according to reliable estimates, of the 250,000 hectares of valonia oak in Turkey, 110,000 hectares are on cropland, and 150,000 cubic meters of sawlogs, 4,000 cubic meters of pulpwood, and 50,000 cubic meters of fuelwood were cut in 1954 in poplar plantations outside the forests. In Cyprus, some 2 million carobs are distributed over 20,000 hectares of cereal crop-land or pasturage, and in Iraq there are about 56 million date palms. The gardens of Damascus (30,000 hectares), where poplars cover some 3,000 hectares, produce more than 50,000 cubic meters of industrial wood. While not all the trees outside the forests are used for supplying industrial wood, some species like poplars, eucalypts, plane trees, acacias, walnuts or cypresses are highly appreciated by the woodworking industries, and pay a particularly important role in providing local handicrafts with the raw material required.

Moreover, some countries of the region have irrigated plantations of poplars and eucalypts around the villages which provide structural timber and fuelwood for local use. Annual growth of these small woodlots is very high and often exceeds 10 cubic meters per hectare, an increment five to ten times greater than that of forests proper.

Economic prospects

In recent years, governments and private organizations too have made great efforts to develop the natural resources of the region and its industries. Whereas during the first years of expansion and industrialization there was seldom any co-ordinated effort, from 1950 onwards most countries elaborated economic development plans based on local capital and foreign aid. If the goals set in these plans are once reached, a great step towards the rational utilization of the region's renewable resources will have been achieved.

Until now, however, relatively little progress has been made, partly due to lack of capital, lack of skilled technicians, or political conditions, and partly due to bad harvests caused through drought. In very recent years, however, implementation of the development plans has markedly accelerated, and there is no doubt that improvements in agriculture, forestry and industry are more tangible than at any time in the past.

A prerequisite for economic development is a good system of communications. Without roads, highways, bridges, railways, navigable rivers, harbors, etc., economic activity is hampered. It is, therefore, understandable that countries like Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are devoting substantial amounts of the capital foreseen in their development plans to improve their communications.


Except in some oil-producing countries, agriculture is the predominant industry, and therefore most of the development plans give high priority to agricultural improvements. Without an increase in agricultural incomes, the further expansion of industry is bound to be frustrated by the narrowness of its market. An improvement in agriculture is all the more needed because, at best, employment opportunities in the urban areas can be found for only a fraction of the annual increase of population.

Efforts to stimulate agricultural expansion have not yet substantially modified the basic pattern of agriculture in the Near East, in which rather limited zones of highly intensive production, mostly cultivated under irrigation and frequently dependent on export markets, alternate with extensive areas of grain production and with equally large areas of nomadic and seminomadic livestock breeding. The fact that many countries depend for foreign earnings on a few agricultural products alone, and that the prices of these products underwent fluctuations on the world markets, led several years ago to a policy of producing selected agricultural crops which otherwise would have to be imported. Emphasis was first often laid on crops which were relatively easy to expand, such as grain or cotton, but the recent trend is towards the diversification of production through the adoption of more intensive crop rotations, including forage crops, and through the reduction of fallow. The goals set are, therefore, intensification and diversification of land use.

The prospects for these developments are good. In several countries, e. g., Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, large irrigation schemes are under way, either by using underground water or by constructing barrages of dams. Several hundred thousands of hectares of unused land will thus be brought under cultivation. The mechanization of agriculture is progressing well, especially in Turkey and Iraq, and the use of fertilizers (until now restricted to high value crops) has increased. Efforts are being made to improve the qualities of cereals and cotton in order to develop new varieties more resistant to drought, blight and rust; the battle against locusts has, in recent years, been more intensively waged. Land reforms have been carried out in several countries and efforts have been made towards a settlement of nomads. It is expected that these measures, together with agricultural credits and technical help to the farmers and peasants, will increase output so that it can at least keep pace with the increasing population.


Over 50 percent of the world's proved reserves of oil are to be found in the Near East and, since quite a large part of the region has not yet been surveyed, the probable reserves, early in 1953 estimated at some 8,300 million tons, are believed to be much greater. The prospects for the development of the petroleum industry are therefore good. But there are two points which have to be taken into account for the long-term development of the region as a whole:

1. Petroleum has been found only in some parts of the region and, while a few countries derive great direct or indirect advantages from this natural treasure, the majority have to look for other sources and means for developing their economies and financing necessary investments.

2. In spite of the present favorable prospects for the production of oil, a long-sighted economic policy has to take into account that oil is a non-renewable resource, which will inevitably at some stage be exhausted.

Apart from the oil industry, other industries are not yet sufficiently advanced to withstand unaided foreign competition in the foreseeable future. They suffer, moreover, from the limited range of available raw materials. The absence of coal and iron deposits prevents the development of heavy industries. Even in Turkey, where these two raw materials are to be found, the considerable distances separating them imposes a heavy strain on the iron and steel industry. As regards other mineral resources, the situation is somewhat better. Cyprus, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey possess several important minerals, such as asbestos, chromium, copper, gold, manganese, phosphates, salt and silver. Afghanistan has large deposits of oil and many minerals including zinc, lead, chrome, magnesium, manganese, copper and also some coal and iron, but very few are worked at present. Other countries in the region also undoubtedly possess minerals, but their resources have not yet been surveyed properly. Raw materials, however, are often of low quality, and the end products manufactured from them are often more expensive than imported goods.

The shortage of trained managers and technicians still retards industrial development. Poor health amongst workers, inadequate nutrition and housing, obsolete machinery and insufficient maintenance have resulted in low productivity, and the low scale of wages in most countries admittedly reduces production costs but also does not raise productivity. Lack of capital has been a major obstacle for industry. Foreign capital until recently has been more or less restricted to the oil industry, except in some instances where large enterprises have been established with foreign aid.

Expansion of industrial production is likely to be much slower than progress in agriculture. But new industries are contemplated in many countries, for example in Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, based on agricultural products (especially textiles), forest products, or various minerals. Both public and private capital, as well as foreign aid, are expected to be brought more fully into play.

Future demand fob industrial wood

It is obvious that an estimate of the consumption of industrial wood and its products can only be rough. The lack of information on present wood consumption by end-uses and the uncertainty of future economic developments in the different countries hamper any forecast. Nevertheless, some attempt to gauge demand trends is necessary in order to provide a background against which development plans in forestry and forest products can be appraised. The present paper calculates the future demand for industrial wood ten years ahead but this does not necessarily mean that the level of demand anticipated will be reached exactly in 1965. It may be reached either sooner or later, but the general trend is nevertheless likely to remain.

An assessment of the future demand for industrial wood has to take into account, in particular, the increase of agricultural output, of industrialization, building activity and mining, and improvements in transport and communications.

It is obvious that all fields of economic activity will be heavily influenced by the development of the population. About 190 million people are now living in the area under consideration here, and it is a fairly safe assumption that the annual increase in population will be at least 1.3 percent, which has been the trend in recent years. Steady progress in health measures tend continually to lower the annual death rate and increase the live birth rate.

The present consumption of industrial wood per head of population appears to average 0.03 cubic meters for all the countries considered, this being the lowest regional figure in the world. Assuming a future level of consumption not lower than this it may be said that, on the basis of increase of population alone, an additional 900,000 cubic meters per year will be needed by 1965. But we will examine more closely each field of activity where there is consumption of industrial wood.

Agricultural output

It has already been said that one of the main features of future development will be the expansion of agricultural production. Great irrigation schemes in almost all countries of the region are either in an advanced stage of execution or will be initiated in the near future. The building of dams, as well as other constructional work connected with irrigation, will probably absorb substantial amounts of wood. The same is true, in an expanded agriculture, for various roundwood assortments like posts. In the case of fruit and vegetable production and export, a remarkable upward trend has already been noted in recent years,3 and it may be assumed that output of these agricultural products will increase still further owing to improvements in cultivation and marketing methods. A number of exporting firms have started to pack their products in boxboards and in paperboard; the wood used for boxboards or board for packaging need not be of high quality, which is very important since many forests in the region at present chiefly produce the lower qualities of timber.

3Exports of dates increased from 217,000 tons in 1948 to over 286,000 tons in 1953, i. e. one-third; the same is true for onions. Dry vegetables shipped abroad increased from 50,000 to 75,000 tons. Exports of fruit (lemons, limes, grapes and apples) have risen from 11,000 to 37,000 tons singe 1949

It is estimated that some 750,000 cubic meters (roundwood equivalent) are now used in agriculture and related activities such as irrigation. The main assortments used are sawnwood, boxboards, poles, packing paper and board. An increase of 300,000 cubic meters by 1965 is envisaged, of which some 50,000 cubic meters will be paper and board which will be given separate consideration later. Thus it may be assumed that an additional 250,000 cubic meters, representing an increase of one-third, will be needed for an expanded agriculture in ten years' time, mainly in the form of sawlogs, constructional poles and posts.

Industrialization and building activity

Gradual industrialization, which is at present in its initial stages (except in Turkey, which is already well advanced) forms another of the main features of countries' development plans.

In recent years, building activity has expanded rapidly. The region's production of cement rose from 1.5 million tons in 1947 to 2.9 million in 1953. It doubled in Pakistan and Lebanon, and in Iraq rose from a mere 10,000 tons to 140,000 tons, while Egypt, the main producer in the region, increased its output during that period from 650,000 to over 1,100,000 tons. Statistics of building permits issued are scanty but, where they are available, they indicate that the level of building activity will continue. Egypt is initiating a vast building program, and in- Pakistan and Iraq, for example, where industrialization is being introduced at an accelerated pace, or in countries where nomads will be settled, building of houses will be further expanded.

Since 1950, the capacity of electric energy installations rose simultaneously in Cyprus, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Turkey by some 35 percent; production-of electric energy rose from 1,330 million kwh in 1950 to some 2,200 million in 1953, that is by 65 percent. Pakistan and Iraq trebled their production.

There is no doubt that, if this development continues, more roundwood will be used, mainly in the form of constructional timber, sawnwood, poles, paper and board; the two last items particularly for packing finished goods. A recent investigation in Pakistan by an FAO Technical Assistance officer has shown that for the main industries some 50 percent more wood will be used when the current development program is fulfilled.

It has been assumed that out of the present apparent consumption of 5 million cubic meters of sawlogs and other industrial wood, at least 4 million cubic meters are being used for building activities such as housing, non-residential construction, etc. It is probable that, apart from the increase in paper and board consumption for packaging, a further 1.2 million cubic meters of roundwood, or 30 percent more than at present will be needed by 1965 mainly for the purpose of sawnwood, boxboards, plywood and constructional timber. About two-thirds of this additional amount may be in the form of sawlogs, the rest being used for rough poles, constructional timber and for electric lines.


Turkey and Pakistan, the main producers of coal, increased their output from 1947 to 1953 by one-third, and Turkey's production of manganese, copper and chrome ore rose in the same period from 62,000 tons to 515,000 tons and by over 100 percent since 1950. The development plans for these countries envisage a substantial increase in these products. Consumption of pitprops in mining is at present estimated at about 200,000 cubic meters. Assuming that in ten years' time the output of the mining industry will increase by 50 percent and assuming furthermore that the ratio of pitprops used per production unit will decline, as has been the case in Europe and North America, future consumption of roundwood for mining should amount to approximately 250,000 cubic meters, or 50,000 cubic meters more than at present representing an increase of 25 percent.

Transport and communications

It has already been stated that the development of roads, railways, harbors, and so on, is a prerequisite to economic activity and that in many countries emphasis is, therefore, being laid on the improvement of communications. Telephone and telegraph poles, sawnwood in the form of sleepers or for shattering and scaffolding, piling, etc., will be increasingly used. Pakistan, for example, is gradually replacing its steel and concrete telegraph and transmission poles (mostly imported) by cheaper wooden ones. On the calculation that, at present, some 250,000 cubic meters of roundwood are used for these purposes, it is estimated that a further 100,000 cubic meters, or 40 percent, will be needed annually in about ten years' time.

Paper and board consumption

Consumption of paper and board (only 1.1 kilograms per head) is now very low and amounts, for the region as a whole, to some 210,000 tons. The rate of literacy is put at 15 to 25 percent.

In all regions of the world demand for these commodities is rising, but in the coming years it is likely to rise most rapidly in those countries where present levels of consumption are low. Popular education is spreading and the demand for newsprint is making great progress. Educational and cultural advance bespeaks ready access to adequate supplies of printing and writing paper. Similarly, economic growth and rising standards of welfare call for larger amounts of packaging and other industrial paper and boards. A recent analysis of the world's pulp and paper prospects4 has indicated that demand for paper and board, in the next ten years for the region as a whole, may be estimated at some 350,000 tons, or 140,000 tons more than today. Part of this quantity will be manufactured from agricultural residues or bamboo.5 It is, therefore, assumed that about 70,000 tons of the additional requirements of pulp and paper will be based on pulpwood and that the demand from this source will consequently be increased by some 200,000 cubic meters.

4World Pulp and Paper Resources and Prospects, UN and FAO, New York, 1954.

5In Egypt, a pulp and paper plant with a capacity of 25,000 tons of chemical pulp and 30,000 tons of paper and board will be based on agricultural residues, in Iraq a 12,000 ton mill is contemplated which will use reeds as raw material. In Pakistan, four projects are either under construction or at the discussion stage; three of these plants will be based on bamboo, straws and grasses. Only one of the plants in Pakistan, and those planned to be built in Turkey, are likely to use wood.

Consumption needs in 1965

Having briefly reviewed the main components responsible for the future demand for industrial wood and its products, the findings may be summed up as follows: the present regional consumption of about 5.8 million cubic meters will rise by 1.8 million cubic meters or 31 percent6, to about 7.6 million cubic meters. The following Table shows, in round figures, the details of this calculation.

6A detailed study on the future demand for industrial wood has so far been carried out only in the case of Pakistan (East and West Pakistan). This study envisages a 60 percent higher consumption requirement ten years hence.


Roundwood category

Present consumption

Increased consumption through

Consumption around






(in thousands of cubic meters)




800 -





















Other industrial wood
















(a) Increased expanded agricultural activity; (b) industrial activity and housing; (c) mining; (d) transport and communications; (e) higher paper and board consumption.

These figures are very tentative. But they result in the assumption that consumption requirements ten years ahead of industrial wood and its products per head of population will be some 0.035 cubic meters, still several times less than in southern European countries in 1950 (Spain, 0.10 m3; Greece, 0.11 m3; Italy, 0.17 m3; Portugal, 0.18 m3).

Future supply of industrial wood

Of the approximately 5.8 million cubic meters of industrial wood consumed annually today, 2.3 million or about two-fifths are imported. An additional 1.8 million will have to be made available annually in about 10 years, since future requirements will probably amount to 7.6 million cubic meters. There exist three sources that can supply this quantity: imports, indigenous forests and trees outside the forests including small-scale plantations. These possibilities are briefly reviewed here.

Increase of imports

From 1946 to 1950 imports steadily increased but have remained more or less stable in the last four to five years. Intakes of sawn softwood, the main commodity imported in the region, slightly declined, whereas paper and board imports increased by some 10 percent, and those of pitprops remained steady.

Apart from the oil-producing countries, most others show an unfavorable balance of payments. Therefore, although imports of industrial wood and its products account, on an average, for only about 4 percent of the value of the total imports of the countries being considered, it is not likely that timber imports will substantially increase in the near future. Moreover, some of the traditional suppliers to the Near East such as Yugoslavia or Romania, have curtailed their exports for some time, and the consequent deficit has had to be covered by other sources, such as North America, which has raised many difficulties, including higher freight rates. It is, therefore, arguable whether the region's additional requirements of industrial wood and its products can partly be met by increased imports and it is safer to assume that the supplementary 1.8 million cubic meters which will be required by 1965 will have to come from indigenous sources.

Increase of domestic production

Many of the Near East countries were long ago famed for their rich forests. Today these forests are few in number and scattered, and their extent is constantly being diminished, so that they properly fulfill neither a protective nor a productive role. Overcutting, destructive cutting, burning, lopping and constant grazing have reached a stage where "forests" are often composed merely of some few poorly shaped trees or bushes per hectare. If these practices were to continue unchecked, prospects for providing additional timber would be nil, and the forests of the region would, in the near future, be unable even to continue to provide the 3.5 million cubic meters of industrial wood they furnish at present.

Fortunately, in recent years, governments and private enterprise in almost all the countries have become more forest-conscious. The main possibilities for taking the fullest advantage of this more favorable attitude to forestry are the following:

(a) proper management of existing forests;
(b) rationalization of exploitation and utilization;
(c) opening up of inaccessible forests;
(d) afforestation.

Proper management of existing, forests. The existing forests of the Near East are for the most part insufficiently stocked. Fellings have not been kept under control; planting, tending, thinnings, protection from fire, control of pests, diseases and grazing have been undertaken not at all or on an inadequate scale, and the forested areas have been left without an adequate potential growing stock of desirable species under conditions of vigorous growth. Pure coppice may be abundant in places but the percentage of high forests and coppices with standards is often quite insufficient.

Most forest areas in the region suffer particularly from excessive grazing. The number of livestock, compared with prewar, has now increased 14 percent, but the output of livestock products (meat, milk, etc.) has not increased substantially. This is mainly due to the increased number of goats (38 million in 1938/39 and about 50 million now) and all too often it is the goat which dominates the livestock category.

Forest conservation and management are impracticable until the grazing problem is solved. Grazing within the forest must be regulated and kept under control. This means reducing the numbers of animals, eliminating goats altogether from many areas, and the practicing of seasonal rotation grazing. At the same time, range lands outside the forest must be improved, and fodder production increased through the establishment of permanent pastures and more extensive use of cultivated fodder crops.

If even the existing forests of the region were properly managed, there would be no problem in how to meet the future requirements of industrial wood. Nowadays some 31 million hectares of forests are reported to be in use. Assuming an annual growth of only 1 cubic meter per hectare - a very conservative estimate - it would in theory be possible to cut more than 30 million cubic meters each year. If half of this quantity should consist of industrial wood, the region could be provided with four times as much timber than at present without reducing the fuelwood supply.7 But before the forests of the Near East could reach such a point, many decades would have to elapse.

7A Technical Assistance report dealing with the present situation in Syria points out that the forests, having now an annual growth of only 1.5 cubic meters per hectare will yield three times as much when modern forest management practices are introduced.

But in recent years, more forest areas have been brought under forest management and sustained yield practices for small or larger areas have been introduced. This encouraging development will certainly continue. It must, however, be realized that the introduction of good forest management will not result in any immediate increase in forest output, rather it will lead to some reduction in fellings in order to build up an adequate stock of growing timber in the depleted forests,8 according to the old proverb "only from wood comes more wood." Proper management will, therefore, have only long-term effects and it may be assumed that for the next decade no considerable additional timber is likely to be made available from the existing forests.

8In Iraq, the annual cut is expected to be reduced by a quarter, due to recently issued regulations on control of cutting and transport of forest products.

Rationalization of exploitation and utilization. Most countries of the Near East suffer from the lack of skilled labor trained in proper cutting techniques, and logging equipment is insufficient or even non-existent. Trees are cut, for example, at too high a level, and sometimes the cut is made only on one side of the tree which is then toppled over so that the most valuable part of the stem is hopelessly split. Logs are often left too long in the forests and so exposed to decay.9 According to enquiries made in several countries of the region, cutting and logging losses amount to some 15 percent of the standing volume of the trees felled. By giving the forest workers proper training and providing them with adequate tools and logging equipment, about a third of these losses could be avoided immediately. It can conservatively be estimated that at least an additional 100,000 cubic meters of industrial wood could in this way be saved annually.

9The disastrous practice of charcoal-burning by taking only the branches of the trees and leaving the stems unused as practiced in Iran, is a striking example of unrational utilization.

Most of the existing timber industries (especially the sawmills) are insufficiently equipped or dispose of only obsolete machinery and unskilled labor or, in many cases, do not reach even the handicraft stage. The result is an excessive amount of waste which could be avoided. Yields in sawmills seldom exceed 40 to 45 percent whereas, through improvements, it might be as high as 60 percent. The modernization of sawmills would take some time, however, as this is only possible through substantial capital invest meets. But developments, especially in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, the main producers of sawnwood in the region, show that a start has been made towards rational utilization, and it may be expected that in the next decade this development will at least continue. Production of sawnwood in the region amounts now to about 1.9 million cubic meters in roundwood equivalent. It is assumed that through improved working methods, the yield may, in ten years' time, go up 45 to 50 percent, in this way indirectly increasing the amount of wood available by another 50,000 cubic meters at least.

The amount of timber used can also be economized by preservation. The main assortments in the region which are suited for impregnation, apart from sleepers and pitprops are different sorts of poles, used especially for telegraphs and telephones. At present, wood preservation is seldom applied and mostly in a primitive way. The life of timber could be lengthened by at least 50 percent if modern preservation techniques were to be used widely. Again Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are making big efforts to introduce modern wood preservation plants and, taking into account other countries also, it is assumed that in about ten years' time, 100,000 cubic meters of properly impregnated industrial wood will be used in the region. In the light of the extended durability thus afforded, this would mean that an economy of about 50,000 cubic meters annually could be effected.

It is, therefore, concluded that by savings made through rational exploitation and utilization, the region would be able to dispose of an additional supply equivalent to 200,000 cubic meters of industrial wood annually in about ten years' time.

Opening up of inaccessible forests. Owing to topography and lack or inadequacy of transportation facilities, there are in the region about 12 million hectares of forests which are classed as inaccessible, of which Ethiopia alone accounts for more than one-half and Iran for one-fourth. Substantial areas are also to be found in Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan. Although a part of these forests is located in high mountains and consequently to be considered primarily as protective forests, many tracts that are certainly capable of being worked consist of very valuable coniferous and broadleaved species. The opening up of such forests would require substantial investments to construct the necessary transportation facilities. But the remarkably large sum already earmarked in countries' development plan to improving the general transportation systems should be of great help in this direction.

Several countries have already begun systematically to open up their inaccessible forests and plans exist to continue this at an accelerated pace.10 It is therefore, assumed that, out of the 12 million hectare of forests nowadays estimated as inaccessible, at leas 10 percent will come into use in the coming decade The annual cut on a sustained yield basis should be at least 2.5 cubic meters per hectare, about one-fourth of which would consist of industrial wood, so the in ten years' time an additional 800,000 cubic meters of timber should be available for the future needs of the region.

10In Turkey about 50,000 hectares of inaccessible forests were brought into use from 1947 to 1952 and another 185,000 hectares were planned to be made accessible between ]953 and 1957. Forest exploitation in East Pakistan is being developed at an accelerated pace, and in Iran the forest service intends to improve the transportation system m the virgin forests of Masenderan.

Afforestation. As stated before, the percentage of lane supporting forests in the region is only 4 percent, being by far the lowest in the world, and many so-called forests are so depleted that they cannot be restored by silvicultural methods alone. Both improvement and extension of the forested area are badly needed. There are many marginal lands not properly suited for agricultural purposes which could be made available for afforestation, although this would involve careful consideration of the relation between forestry and agriculture interests if the most were to be made out of their mutual interdependence. Tree-planting on bare land is also possible in many parts of the region.11

11The semi-tidal coastal strips in Iraq and Iran could be afforested with mangroves, areas where for the moment there is no wood at all. Xerophylous and halophilous species with modest climatic and soil demands, as saxaul (Haloxylon persicum) for instance, can be planted even in desert areas.

In Jordan, Libya and Turkey alone, it is planned to afforest 65,000 hectares between 1953 and 1957 an average of 13,000 hectares yearly. If this average is maintained in the future, these three countries alone will have extended their forest area by 130,000 hectares in 1965.12 Although no details of afforestation plans of other countries are at present available,13 it may be assumed that, for the region as a whole, at least some 250,000 hectares will be planted during the next ten years. Part of this planting will be done with quick-growing species, and it may be estimated that the annual growth will average about 5 cubic meters per hectare, thus adding about 1.25 million cubic meters to the annual growth of the existing forest. Even though afforestation can yield only a relatively small increase in wood production over the short term, that is before 1965, quick-growing species can be brought to yield small-sized industrial wood such as constructional poles, pulpwood, pitprops and fencing wood, even in 5 to 8 years' time. Afforestation is therefore estimated to give about 100,000 cubic meters in 1965.

12In Libya, the Government has recently established a twenty-year program for forestry including afforestation and dune fixation, thus securing the necessary stability for long term development.

13At the inauguration of a "tree plan" in Egypt in spring 1953, it was stated that during that year a million trees would be planted throughout the country, and another 30 million during the following five years. The plan aims at producing within the country sufficient timber to cover all Egyptian requirements.

Tree planting outside the forests

Agricultural output in the region is largely limited by adverse natural conditions, such as the widespread lack of moisture caused by the low incidence and uncertain distribution of rainfall, and winds. These adverse conditions can, in part, be mitigated by appropriate forms of tree planting, shelterbelts and windbreaks. Even though trees cannot increase the amount of moisture precipitated, they can help to distribute it more evenly. Trees can also provide shelter from winds which increase transpiration and decrease the growth of agricultural crops. This is especially important where cultivated areas border the great deserts and dry alluvial plains. Furthermore, trees in quantity have a definite influence in modifying local climatic conditions. Extremes of temperature are reduced, atmospheric humidity increased and evaporation rates lowered.

This influence of trees on agricultural output brought about by simple plantations, small woodlots or even greater shelterbelts, has long been recognized in the Near East, and one of the characteristics of countries of the region is the small-scale plantation (mostly poplar) to be found on irrigated land near a village.

These trees already provide quite a substantial amount of industrial timber and fuelwood. There is, however, no doubt that much more could be done, especially on marginal irrigated lands. A tree cordon laid around the whole irrigation area in the Nile valley, for example, where crops of high value border the desert, might substantially increase agricultural production by tempering the inflow of hot winds into the lands.

All such tree-planting outside the forest could provide substantial quantities of industrial wood14 in a relatively short period, as most of the species used (poplar, eucalyptus, casuarina, dalbergia, tamarisks, ash, plane, robinia, etc.) are quick-growing and afford a valuable yield even after 5 to 10 years. If the introduction of tree crops on agricultural land were undertaken at an accelerated pace, it is estimated that about 700,000 cubic meters of industrial wood could be produced in 10 years' time.

14The fact that in Iran, during 1950-1952, an annual average of about 400,000 cubic meters of industrial roundwood was taken from trees outside the forests, illustrates the extent of these possibilities. The approximate figures for Jordan and Syria are 2,000 and 35.000 cubic meters respectively.

Estimated additional supplies

The findings of the arguments above may be summed up as follows: although a series of good agricultural crop harvests may enable some countries to increase their imports of sawnwood, pulp and paper, the balance of payments of most countries as well as the presumed export availabilities from the region's traditional timber suppliers confirm that, on the whole, timber imports are not likely to increase substantially during the next decade. The figure of additional requirements arrived at earlier, 1.8 million cubic meters of industrial wood, should, therefore, be met from indigenous production. A tentative estimate seems to show that this quantity could be forthcoming through the following means:

Cubic meters

Rationalization of exploitation and utilization


Opening up of inaccessible forests




Tree planting outside the forests





The Twelfth Congress of the Union will be held in Oxford from 7 to 14 July 1956. After the close of the Congress on the 14th, members will be able to participate in one of the series of study tours arranged in northern Scotland, central and western Scotland, southern Scotland northern England, eastern England southern and southeastern England, west and southwestern England, and North Wales. An inclusive price will be charged for each tour.

The Congress follows immediately after the 5th General Assembly of the International Union for the Protection of Nature which will be held in Edinburgh from 20 to 28 June and which will be followed by tours lasting until the beginning of the week following. There will be a gap of only a few days between the Assembly and the Congress and it will thus be possible for those interested to attend both functions.

Program of Congress

All meetings of the Congress except plenary sessions will be held in the Imperial Forestry Institute which will be placed at the Union's disposal by Professor Champion.

Friday, 6th July, 1956

Arrival of members in Oxford. Registration.

Saturday, 7th July

Registration of members (continued).
Opening of Congress.
Meeting of International Council.

Sunday, 8th July

Morning - free.
Afternoon - local excursions.

Monday, 9th July

Morning - meetings of sections 11, 22, 25.
Afternoon - meetings of sections 21, 31, 41.

Tuesday, 10th July

Morning - meetings of sections 23, 24, 32.
Afternoon - meetings of sections 11, 22, 25.

Wednesday, 11th July

Morning - meetings of sections 21, 31, 41.
Afternoon- meetings of sections 23, 24, 32.

Thursday, 12th- July

Alternative excursions to Alice Holt Research Station, Forest Products Research Laboratory, Princes Risborough, or Rothamsted Experimental Station. A charge will be made to cover the cost of these excursions.

Friday, 13th July

Final meetings of sections.
Meetings of study groups.
Meeting of International Council.

Saturday, 14th July

Plenary session.
Close of Congress.
Departure of members on study tours.


A Reception Committee has been formed under the Presidency of the Earl of Radnor, Chairman of the Forestry Commission.

The Organizing Committee, which is responsible for the general preparations is composed of Sir Henry Beresford-Peirse, Professor Champion, Mr. Macdonald and Mr. T. R. Peace.

A Ladies Committee is being formed under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Champion.


Each member will pay a subscription fee of £3.10s., which will entitle him to receive a copy of the proceedings of the Congress. Ladies accompanying members will each pay a fee of £1. Applications for enrolment forms should be addressed to the Secretary, Organizing Committee 12th IUFRO Congress, Forestry Commission, 25 Savile Row, London, W.1. before 30 April, 1956.

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