Marcel Leloup has retired from FAO, at a time when his energy and intellect are as keen as when he was first called to direct the Forestry and Forest Products Division twelve years ago. But Leloup is a man of principles. He is also a true Breton and, therefore, obstinate. He has always maintained that the old must in good time make way for a younger generation. He had already been persuaded to prolong his term of office longer than he intended: now he has decided that his limit has been reached.
Insistence on principles is undoubtedly Leloup's most characteristic trait and is at the root of his success in life. It has certainly given a personality all its own to the Forestry and Forest Products Division of FAO which he created, and a distinctive cast to the policy which that Division has pursued. His principles have underlain the wide range of activities undertaken by the Division, and his stand on the regional approach has allowed world-wide coverage to be achieved despite the complexity of the divisional program. If FAO has been able to claim some success in its work for world forestry, it is to Marcel Leloup first that must be ascribed the credit.
Leloup is able to carry through great ideas because he does not allow himself to become enmeshed in details. Having given directives, he leaves the fulfilment of his plans to colleagues whom he has himself selected and to whom he confidently delegates responsibility. However, in so doing, he never hesitates to make himself answerable for the ideas which he is convinced should be given substance. This is a measure of the qualities of the man who was seriously maimed in war, became a forester and then turned to world affairs.
It is inevitable that a man so forthright should meet with opposition. Nevertheless, he often wins his case because he has a sure judgment of the arguments to be employed and an accurate sense of timing. He also knows the limits of the strength of his position. Beyond that, being blunt but honest, strict but essentially fair, sometimes angry but with a lurking smile, he wins friends and admirers even among those who cannot subscribe to his views.
Leaving FAO, Leloup fully realizes that many of his goals have yet to be attained. He is sometimes still impatient at this and perhaps a trifle disillusioned. He retires, however, with the satisfaction of being able to say that he has not surrendered any of his battles through compromising on principles.
He leaves behind him a team of colleagues whom he has trained to carry on his work and reach towards his goals. And the Forestry and Forest Products Division will continue to seek advice and inspiration from this great personality who, though relaxing in retirement, will still remain its spiritual head.
FIGURE 1. - Experienced African axemen, balancing on flimsy structures of saplings which raise them above gigantic buttresses, skilfully fell the trees of the African forest. (A shot from the Unilever film "The Twilight Forest".)
Courtesy, United Africa Company Limited for all photographs in this article
FIGURE 2. - High above the forest, two Africans fix a wire rope block to a tall tree, which is used as a mast from which logs are hauled and loaded on to waiting transport.