THE international forestry review of FAO's Division of Forestry and Forest Products needed a title.
It was felt that the title should express a policy. By going back to a language that once scientific thinking, the Division has sought to enhance the basic concept that there must be united thought and effort if the "one world" is to consider its forests as "one forest" for the use of all mankind.
The rapid evolution of world economy and the very circumstances of our present lives demand such a policy.
Forests were originally a huge reserve out of which each man could help himself to meet his own most immediate needs: fire and shelter.
As villages and towns developed, the inhabitants had to go-farther and farther afield to find the wood they needed. Economically the woodlands could no longer be considered the exclusive and unrestricted property of the individual. To take undue advantage of them was to deprive the community of an essential supply, not only exhausting a source of valuable raw material, but also depriving the tilled soil of an indispensable complement and a necessary protection.
When roads and railways developed, the immediate proximity of vast forests was no longer necessary, and the modern city dweller drifted farther and farther away from the land which nevertheless continued to ensure his subsistence. By that very fact, however, the responsibility of the forester has increased, expanding to regional or even national boundaries.
Meanwhile, nations pursued their destinies. Wherever the population increased, the forests inevitably disappeared - a natural consequence all too often made more serious by reprehensible negligence. In our own times, when so few nations can provide for their own needs of wood, the uses of timber are becoming increasingly numerous and essential to civilization. Timber has now become an international commodity, crossing frontiers, and even oceans. The smallest forest owner has become accountable to the whole world.
To meet her needs, Europe, for instance, must now turn to countries far removed indeed: to the vest resources of the Americas, to the virgin forests of the Soviet Union, to the scarcely tapped riches of the equatorial regions.
Every tree, every patch of forest has become the whole world's concern. Care of the forests then becomes the whole world's responsibility, at least to the extent of affording to governments and forest owners such assistance as may be needed in this often difficult task.
For if forests are now to be considered as a world resource, either as a source of timber or as a general protection for agricultural lands, the world must manage them with all the forethought of a paterfamilias. At the very least, it should encourage careful management. Each generation which has enjoyed this grant heritage should pass it on intact, if not improved, to the next one.
This assistance, which may assure many forms, will have to be rendered by international organizations to those who act as stewards of these riches.
The Division of Forestry and Forest Products can only hope that Unasylva will serve this purpose by discussing the problems and helping to broadcast the increasingly complex information and knowledge required for a full utilization of the forest and its products.
Division of Forestry and Forest Products of FAO