Mediterranean forestry subcommission
Fourth FAO conference on wood technology
Wood resources and requirements in the Far East
Fundamental education in conservation
The sixth session of "Silva Mediterranea" (the Mediterranean Forestry Subcommission) was held at Madrid, 17-22 April, under the chairmanship of Professor Pavari (Italy). The 48 delegates participating represented the following members: France, Israel, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia. Representatives of Argentina, Chile, Iran, Sudan, and the United States also took part, and observers were present on behalf of the European Confederation of Agriculture (ECA), the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). Mr. Marcel M. Leloup and Mr. E. Glesinger represented FAO; Mr. R. Fontaine was Secretary, assisted by Mr. L. Gimenez-Quintana.
A progress report on FAO's Mediterranean Development Project was given by Mr. Glesinger. The procedures being followed were approved and an ad hoc committee was named to collaborate with the Secretariat. The main discussion items were trends in land-use policy in the countries bordering the Mediterranean, and consequently in silvicultural practices. The delegates supported intensive silviculture as the answer to forest rehabilitation and soil conservation but insisted that advance in forestry was closely linked with improved agricultural practices, and with creating new local markets for forest produce.
Reports of the working parties on eucalypts, on corkoak, and on ecology, were endorsed. The working party on afforestation techniques recommended working out a methodology for cost/benefits analysis of afforestation in Mediterranean-type countries.
Mr. P. Martinez-Hermosilla, Director-General of Forests, Spain, was elected the new Chairman of the Subcommission, and Mr. Vieira Natividade (Portugal) and Mr. M. Badra (Tunisia) Vice-Chairmen.
The Fourth FAO Conference on Wood Technology was also held in Madrid, 22 April-2 May, and was attended by 59 delegates from 31 countries, including all the leading members of FAO's Technical Panel on Wood Technology. Mr. E. Glesinger represented FAO. Mr. J. Yavorsky and Mr. E. Garnum acted as Secretaries.
The main agenda items related to:
(a) Mechanical properties of timber
(b) Physical properties of timber
(c) Fibreboards and particle boards
(d) Veneer, plywood and other glued veneer constructions
(e) Structural grading
(f) Fire test methods
(g) Sawing and machining
(h) Classification of wood-base materials.
As background to the discussions, 51 technical papers had been submitted and another 40 were tabled by delegates during the Conference. Stemming from the activities of earlier Conferences, test methods for timber, plywood, fibreboards and particle boards were reviewed and new methods added to the list of recommended test procedures. The testing of the reaction to fire of building materials was the subject of prolonged discussions which resulted in agreement on the principles for conducting such tests. It was emphasized that the favorable resistance to fire of timbers as well as the considerable improvement in reaction to fire which can be achieved by treatment of wood and wood-base materials, are features which should be adequately reflected in the formulation of national and local building codes and regulations.
The Conference, which is an important instrument for an international exchange of information and the co-ordination of basic research programs, singled out for action by FAO work on problems of building materials in housing: among such problems are grading systems for wood, better utilization of the inherent strength of structural sizes of wood, and wood preservation. A group of experts was appointed to try to establish a private association of wood technologists with worldwide membership.
As Chairman, the Conference elected Mr. P. Martinez-Hermosilla of Spain. Mr. J. Campredon (France), Mr. L. J. Markwardt (U.S.A.) and Mr. B. Thunell (Sweden) were elected Vice-Chairmen.
It is one of the characteristic anomalies of many countries which are embarking on economic development that they lean heavily on imported supplies of forest products even though they are liberally endowed with indigenous forest resources. The early stages of industrialization call for increasing of processed timber (sawnwood, sleepers, plywood, board) for residential and nonresidential construction. Increased literacy and a rising standard of living give rise to an increased and diversified demand for forest products, especially for those derived from pulp. Yet all too often current forest exploitation is export-oriented and selective, so that many usable tree species and dimensions are wasted. At the same time uncontrolled fellings for fuel are believed to be eating insidiously into the forest capital in many areas.
A study now in progress, in which FAO is collaborating closely with the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), aims at assessing the region's future timber needs, indicating what forest resources need developing (or creating) and what forest industries require expansion to meet future needs. Special attention is being paid to the part which such industries play in general economic development plans. Co-ordinators have been appointed in most countries of the region to draw up country reports that are being analyzed by the two agencies concerned. It is planned to complete the study in 1959.
Delegates from 16 member countries took part in the seventh session of the EFC (European Forestry Commission) Working Party on Afforestation and Reforestation held in Great Britain from 28 May to 6 June, under the chairmanship of A. Y. Goor (Israel) and attended by the Director, Forestry Division, FAO. Canada, the European Confederation of Agriculture and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations were represented by observers.
In the course of the session participants were afforded the opportunity of visiting some of the extensive afforestation projects carried out by the Forestry Commission in England and Scotland, and of discussing in the field problems of balanced land use and the role of forestry in this context.
The Working Party examined data on the afforestation and reforestation operations carried out in Europe in 1967, as reported by 21 member countries. The total area planted in 1857 was the largest to have so far been reported. However, in many countries implementation fell short of the annual target, owing either to the inadequacy of budgetary provisions or inability to secure from the Treasury the release of approved funds. Deforestation occurred during 1857 at about the same rate as in the past few years, in spite of the increasing abandonment of marginal agricultural land reported by several countries. Although the clearing of forest land for farming continued to be the predominant reason for the reduction of forest areas, the construction of new roads and motorways was now becoming in certain countries a fairly important factor in the loss of forest land.
Information was, for the first time, submitted at this session on detailed costs of operations per hectare. Improved reporting would be sought for the future so as to permit more valid comparison of data.
On the subject of the role of the forest in sound land-use policies, it was felt that the development of forestry in Europe now depended mainly on stepping up productivity. It was important to be able to demonstrate clearly under what conditions the extended establishment of tree plantations was a paying proposition. More reliable means of estimating costs and profits of planting operations were required, so that the profitability of individual projects could be precisely assessed. For the time being indirect benefits could not be given a quantitative monetary expression. Assessment of direct benefits would, however, have the merit of clearly indicating the relative priority of various projects within a forestry program and permit comparisons with projects of an altogether different nature. The matter would be considered again at the nest session in the light of work developed in the meantime.
A fairly important exodus of rural populations, especially from mountainous regions, was reported as still occurring in many countries due mainly to the attraction of industrial centers (with their higher salaries, less strenuous types of work, and more abundant and accessible recreation facilities). To counteract this, the Working Party recommended a higher degree of mechanization of forest operations, to allow for higher salaries and more attractive jobs, and the training of a skilled labor force that can be offered full employment in forest work throughout the year. FAO was invited to undertake, in consultation with the International Labour Organisation, an inquiry into the present situation of manpower employed in forest work, the factors affecting it and the outlook for the future.
In addition to promoting the spread of such movements as the establishment of school forests as a basis for the organizing of national tree festivals, FAO has been carrying out other activities connected with fundamental education in conservation, in con-junction with other international organizations.
Specific proposals have been made for incorporating into the curricula of elementary and secondary schools some teaching of the principles of conservation of natural resources, for submission to Unesco's International Advisory Committee on the School Curriculum. FAO has also, for instance, subsidized and contributed materially to the production by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) of a Handbook on Conservation for use primarily in elementary schools of the Near East region. This action resulted from a recommendation of FAO's Near East Forestry Commission and the material is being used as a basis for the production of a "work-kit" to be made up by a fundamental education team of Unesco who will illustrate it, translate the text into Arabic and adapt it for local use.