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Seventh world forestry congress

Buenos Aires 1972
Congress officers

Buenos Aires 1972

EACH WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS creates its own image and atmosphere. The feeling of exhilaration which pervaded the seventh World Forestry Congress was owed, it is nice to think, to those same buenos aires that gave name to the capital city of Argentina. As for image, the meeting succeeded in relaxing and gratifying the ideas and attitudes of some 2 000 members and associate members coming from over 80 countries. The remarkable attendance was itself a decided compliment to the host country.

The two weeks in October 1972 marked the first time that a forestry congress of such magnitude and complexity had been held in a country of Latin America. For the first time, also, this unique kind of gathering of foresters from all over the world was opened by a head of state. On 4 October the President of Argentina, Lt. General Alejandro A. Lanusse, welcomed the participants, saying it was for the Argentine people a source of legitimate pride to be able to receive so many men of forestry from all quarters of the globe. It was a great experience both for the Argentine Republic and its sister countries in Latin America. At the same time an enormous responsibility lay on them to contribute to the advancement of the wide spectrum of disciplines which forestry embodies. But he had confidence that the whole world would reap the fruits of such an important event.

The President was warmly thanked for his welcome by the Director-General of FAO, Addeke H. Boerma, on behalf of the Organization and of all those who had taken advantage of Argentina's hospitality. An enthusiastic supporter of the congress, Dr. Boerma said that harmonizing the management of forest resources for production purposes with management in the interests of environmental quality presented problems still far from being solved. Important as were environmental issues, they were only part of the world picture. Forests provided the raw material for industries, contributed to world trade, and provided work: they were thus an essential feature on the map of economic and social development. Grave political decisions were entailed in achieving a balance between economic development and the need to use natural resources judiciously.

The first phase of the Buenos Aires congress was con ducted in plenary session to provide the background and setting for the subsequent discussions in technical commissions on the separate fields of interest of the congress membership. There followed another plenary session which provided the opportunity for presenting a Latin-American viewpoint on where the region stood in relation to the overall theme of the congress forests and social-economic development. After a weekend break, a final plenary session, with the discussions lead by a representative policy group, considered the conclusions emanating from all the previous meetings. amended the several reports in the light of the constructive criticism each received, and adopted a draft declaration which synthesized the chief outcomes of the congress in terms of forest policy.

This special issue of Unasylva records the main features of the congress and more particularly the contributions which FAO made to the congress under the terms of an agreement for mutual cooperation reached between the Organization and Argentina when the latter was selected by the FAO Council as host country. It in no way substitutes for the official proceedings of the congress which will be published by the Argentine Government. It must here be said that the FAO contributions would have been of little avail without the support, imagination. and steady guidance of the chairman Of the Organizing Committee and president of the congress, Esteban H. Takacs, Undersecretary for Renewable Natural Resources at the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture. The ovation that Ing. Takacs received after the note of optimism in his address on the last day of the congress reflected truly the esteem in which he was held and helped compensate, it is hoped, for his unremitting endeavours over such a long period.

Before the congress was closed by the Argentine Minister of Agriculture, Ing. Ernesto Lanusse, its culmination was the formal adoption of the congress declaration. A world forestry congress is not an intergovernmental meeting but a gathering of individuals. There may have been, indeed were, many among the congress participants who had inner reservations about this or that paragraph of the declaration. But no one was prepared to push his reservations to the point of obdurate dissent. The very broad objectives of forest policy set out in the declaration can therefore be regarded as common to all countries whatever their political organization.

The declaration of the seventh World Forestry Congress recognizes the urgency for governments to redefine their forest policies in the light of new knowledge, new preoccupations and new aspirations. It is a remarkable document. Does it mean that forestry thinking changed just during the congress? Obviously not. What it does mean is that pressures and controversies among those dealing with forestry over the last decade or so, on such issues as substitutes for wood as a raw material, manmade versus natural forests. the role of private enterprise, the future of the humid tropical forests, the impact of changing technology and of advances in the managerial sciences, the environmental problems and the social responsibilities of foresters, the content of forestry education. research priorities and so on, have led to considerable soul-searching and to a re-examination of the status and responsibilities of foresters.

This has brought about a starker awareness of the challenge of the future and of the new tasks which have to be faced, and a recognition of the need for a new approach to these tasks. The wind of change blowing through the world has brought about a new consensus, and the declaration adopted in Buenos Aires is an attempt to give shape to that consensus. In this guise, one may fairly say that the impact of the seventh World Forestry Congress will be felt for many years to come.

Before an audience filling the main hall of the General San Martin Cultural Centre in the heart of Buenos Aires, the President of Argentina, General Alejandro A. Lanusse, formally opened the seventh World Forestry Congress on 4 October 1972. On behalf of the people and Government of Argentina, he welcomed the members who had travelled from all over the world to this first such congress to be held in a country of Latin America. Later he took the occasion to announce the Government's decision to create a National Forestry Fund, integrating the state and private sectors, as the most efficacious means of rapidly expanding forestry development in Argentina.

Thanking the President on behalf of all the member countries of the United Nations and of FAO which were represented at the congress, the Director-General of FAO, Addeke H. Boerma, declared that the congress was going to mark the beginning of a new era in forest policy, one that is strongly influenced by social priorities. This was the view declared also by Esteban A. Takacs, Under-Secretary of Renewable Natural Resources in the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture and Chairman of the National Organizing Committee, when he was unanimously elected president of the congress.


The seventh World Forestry Congress has met at Buenos Aires, Argentina, from the 4th to the 18th of October 1972. Thus a world forestry congress has been held for the first time in Latin America, where the time and place have been specially apt for the selected theme: Forests and socioeconomic development.

Forests cover one third of the earth's land surface. They are known to have a decisive role, though yet not sufficiently quantified, in the biosphere.

Man's history is of struggle to conquer nature, a struggle which has led man to devise increasingly complex technologies and new forms of social organization. For millenia a user of forests, only in modern times has man acquired an integral concept of the manifold contribution of forests and associated wildlands to his welfare.

Products of the forest enter into every sphere of man's activities, and thus make a decisive contribution to economic growth. Forests counter erosion, protect agriculture, reduce floods, assure clean water. They reduce pollution, provide amenity and recreation, shelter wildlife and constitute a main defence against environmental deterioration.

The congress has examined many facets of the contemporary challenge: how to accelerate economic and social progress while maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment, recognizing that the aspiration to raise living standards often finds expression in forms that threaten the environment.

The congress is not a competent body to pass judgement on the political, economic and social objectives of governments. Nevertheless, as a special assembly broadly representative of many countries and many walks of life concerned with the forest-one of the world's principal renewable resources in relation to the future of humanity-it is with a profound sense of responsibility that the congress makes this call.

The congress believes that the Plan of Action formulated by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972 will influence forestry development throughout the world in the years to come. Recognizing that in many countries declared forest policies are not in accord with new knowledge, new preoccupations and new aspirations, the congress considers it is now urgent to redefine forest policies in view of these new circumstances. The congress firmly believes that, whatever the political objectives, whatever the form of economic organization, whatever the present pattern of forest land tenure, governments are responsible for planning the continuous flow of the productive, protective and social goods and services from the forest, ensuring that the physical output and environmental benefits of the forests are available for the general welfare of their peoples now and for all time. Since we live in one world, and since the forest resources of the world are unevenly distributed, national policies and plans must take account of the international context.

The congress has noted with concern that the gap between developed and developing nations continues to widen. Some of the largest forest resources of the world lie in countries where economic and social development is lagging. Over and above considerations of social justice, the fact that these resources have a world significance requires greatly intensified efforts by and aid to less developed countries for the development and proper management of their forest resources, so that these resources may simultaneously serve to raise the living standards of their own peoples and contribute to the world's expanding need for forest products.

In particular, this requires greatly intensified research, which too should be carried out within the developing countries, in certain key problem areas. These include: the integral utilization of heterogeneous forests; species and planting techniques for man-made forests under a wide variety of ecological conditions; the adaptation of technologies to accelerate domestic processing and use; the role of forests in rehabilitating marginal lands and halting desertification; the global and local environmental influences of the forest; and the contribution of wildlife management.

The congress considers that, having regard to the increasing complexity of knowledge required for wise forestry decisions, the resources presently devoted to research in the physical and social sciences relevant to forestry are still insufficient. Of even greater concern, however, is the fact that arrangements for the transmiting of knowledge, including the transfer of research findings to policy makers and managers, are becoming inadequate. The congress urges all forestry research agencies and forestry administrations to give high priority to ensuring that new knowledge is swiftly incorporated into forestry activities and practices.

The congress recognizes that if the forests are to increase their contribution to socioeconomic development, the share of the developing countries in international trade in forest products must expand, and this win require improved conditions of trade.

The congress notes that some of the main obstacles to forestry development today are institutional: status and structure of forest services, forest legislation and organs concerned with education, research and extension. There is need to strengthen and adapt forestry institutions in the light of the changing calls on the forestry sector to enable them to make a full contribution to political understanding and social and economic development.

The congress critically examined the status and responsibilities of the forestry profession. Foresters have been pioneers in the struggle to conserve and rationally use renewable resources. As men and women experienced in the multipurpose management of the forest resource, they cannot but view with satisfaction the growing concern about environmental quality and the need for proper management of the world's renewable resources. Foresters recognize that forestry is concerned not with trees, but with how trees can serve people.

This congress declares that the forester, being a citizen as well as a professional, has the clear duty and responsibility to ensure that his informed judgement is heard and understood at all levels of society. His allegiance is not to the resource, but to the rational management of that resource in the long-term interest of the community. To this end, forestry education needs to be broadened, with greater emphasis than heretofore on those disciplines that contribute to the understanding and exercise of the forester's social responsibility.

Finally, this congress does not share the views of the prophets of doom. It recognizes that the world will need an ever increasing flow of goods and services from the forest. It is fully confident that these needs can be met through the rational management and valorization of existing forests and through the creation of new, manmade forests.

It is confident that the governments and peoples of the world are capable of achieving this task of ensuring not only maintenance, but enhancement, of environmental quality. Members of the congress unanimously pledge their unstinted contribution to these goals.

Congress officers

Honorary presidents:

RICHARD E. MCARDLE (United States)


E.A. TAKACS (Argentina)
Co-presidents: C.E. THIBAU (Brazil)
J. TOHA (Chile)

Vice-presidents: E.R. MEAGHER (Australia)
I. GROUEV (Bulgaria)
J. TORO (Ivory Coast)

Vice-presidents (contd):

L. MRUZIK (Czechoslovakia)
Y. BETOLAUD (France)
S. FLANAGAN (Ireland)
S. FUKUDA (Japan)
SOR SONG (Khmer Republic)
M. SUDER (Romania)
LORD TAYLOR (United Kingdom)
J.R. MCGUIRE (United States)


J.J.M. GARCÍA (Argentina)

Associate secretary-general:


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