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News of the world

The items appearing here are condensed selections of news thought to be of interest to readers of UNASYLVA. They are grouped alphabetically by countries under headings currently used by the Forestry Division for reference purpose The Editor will be glad to receive direct from readers authenticated items of interest and of news value for this part of the review.

Fundamental science
Forest injuries and protection
Mensuration and surveying
Forest management
Industry and trade
Forest products and their utilization
Forest policy



· The Youth Section of the Cuban Association for the United Nations is sponsoring the creation of "United Nations" Forests in Cuba. Much interest has been shown in this project in government circles and the first forest has been laid out at Cacahual, which is just outside Havana and is one of the most visited spots in Cuba, being the site of the tomb of General Antonio Maceo and his adjutant Panchito Goméz Toro. A special day known as "El Dia del Arbol" (17 April) was set aside when the first trees were planted and two children from urban and rural schools in each municipality throughout Cuba, as well as pupils from Universities, Teachers Training Colleges and other educational institutions in the Republic, came to Havana to join with school children from the capital in inaugurating the first forest.


· With the opening last year of the new Forestry College at Prodhromos, Cyprus may claim to be the forestry center of the Middle East. The United Nations has sent some of its fellowship holders to study there; so have a number of neighboring governments.

The first course began on 1 October 1951 and among the students taking part were three from Jordan, four from Syria, two from Tripolitania and two from Iraq. It is hoped they will be joined eventually by trainees from Kenya, Uganda, Cyrenaica and the Lebanon. Fifteen of the 36 places the College offers are being reserved for students from overseas. Eighteen Cypriots are taking part in the first course, all of them members of the Cyprus Forest Service.

The full course lasts two years and is designed to prepare the student for the post of forester or forest ranger. The syllabus covers the basic sciences the forester needs to apply to his job, such as botany, geology, climatology and ecology; and specialized subjects such as silviculture, crop mensuration, protection, utilization, and surveying and engineering.


· An International Technical Tropical Timber Association, with headquarters at 16, rue de la Paix, Paris 8, has as its aims: (a) foster and maintain permanent contact between its members, (b) define, protect and co-ordinate their professional interests in all countries, (c) bring the recommendations and resolutions adopted by the Association to the notice of Governments and national or international organizations, and to uphold such recommendations and resolutions by all possible means, (d) study all problems, commercial, technical, fiscal, social, economic, etc., relating to production, transport, import, commerce, brokerage and processing, with a view to promoting the use of tropical timber (e) assemble and communicate to the members of the Association all relevant information, (f) adopt all possible means of developing the production and use of tropical timber, and (g) to this end, to take an active part in publicity and in spreading knowledge with regard to tropical timbers.

The Association has set up study groups to examine the following subjects:

(1) Ways and means of (a) carrying out publicity to encourage the use of tropical timber, (b) collecting, as quickly as possible, documentation on the export and consumption possibilities of various species.

(2) Measures for the rapid standardization of statistics and despatch of information to importers and exporters.

(3) Questions of freight and Customs duties on an international scale.

(4) Specimen contracts. Codification of practices and methods of arbitration.

(5) The conditioning of tropical timbers.


· The Malayan Department of Forestry last year celebrated its 50th anniversary. In 1901, when the first Chief Forest Officer was appointed, there was no forest law, no constituted forest reserves, no research or silviculture, no sawmills, and a very small technical and subordinate staff. Today, each member state of the Federation of Malaya has adequate Forest Enactments, forest reserves cover 23 percent of the total area, there is an excellent Forest Research Institute and the only Timber Research Laboratory in the British non-self-governing territories.

The Malayan system of silviculture in tropical rain forest is based on a system of regeneration by improvement fellings, the most advanced of its kind, which is followed in many other parts of the Commonwealth. There are 228 sawmills with a capacity of over ½ million tons of sawn timber annually. All exploitation is on a strictly sustained yield basis. Income is around 5 ¾ Million Straits dollars annually. There is a trained staff of 66 senior officers, a subordinate staff of 750, and 40 technical assistants. There is a Forest School with an annual intake of 50 students.

This progress is probably the most notable in any of the British colonies. It has been due to the quality and drive of the personnel of the Forest Service, and to the generous financial treatment accorded to the Forestry Department by the Government.


· The 17th annual North American Wildlife Conference brought together about 1,000 conservationists, wildlife administrators, biologists and sportsmen, including representatives of Canada, Alaska and Mexico as well as of all the states of the U.S.A. Attention to integration of resource management was prominent in the proceedings, and the Conference adopted a national policy for natural resources covering management and restoration of all renewable resources, including soils, water, forests and wildlife. In addition, attention was given to practices and programs adversely affecting renewable resources conservation, notably the antiquated mining laws.

A large number of technical papers dealing with various aspects of fish and wildlife management reported the latest findings and practices developed by technical and management specialists.

Fundamental science


· The Nigerian Forest Department has set aside an 80-acre (32 ha.) plot to preserve in an untouched state a typical area of Nigerian forest, From evidence on the plot it seems that the area had been farmed about 150-200 years ago. The plot will now be opened only at fairly long intervals to accredited botanists for the purpose of studying ecological changes. Out of the total area of 80 acres, a detailed inventory has been carried out on 19.4 acres (8 ha.) which have been set up as a permanent sample plot. This carries 13.8 acres (5.6 ha.) of high forest, the remainder being broken forest, tangles and gaps, windfall areas, etc. Topography, geology and soils have been investigated by means of sample pits. About 60 separate collections have been made, and the species identified and classified as emergents, upper story, lower story, herb layer, climbers and lianes, and epiphytes.


· For over 40 years systematic studies have been made on the effects of livestock grazing on high mountain watersheds in the Intermountain National Forest Region in western U.S.A. Based on these studies, a handbook has been published by the U. S. Forest Service which enables a range manager to judge the conditions and trends of his lands.

"Condition" is the character of the vegetal cover and soil in relation to what it ought to be. "Trend" is change in condition, either toward improvement or deterioration. The diagnostic features by which both may be judged are called "indicators." The basis for judgement of condition is the normal, i.e. undisturbed condition, under which are found maximum soil stability and the most advanced successional stage of vegetation, with perennial rather than annual plants. Relict areas have to be hunted out to identify "normality" on the many complex range types, each of which is the result of distinctive combinations of factors - animals, plants, soil, climate and topography.

In 1948 a project was also undertaken by the U. S. Forest Service to develop a simplified method for measuring trend in range condition. The method now evolved entails three primary steps:

1. The permanent establishment of transects in clusters, to sample selected representative parts of the range and to be used for repeat observations in subsequent years. Careful selection of sampling area must be made to avoid spots too close to fences or water, or, unless the primary purpose is to determine climatic effects, too remote areas where grazing is light or absent. A ring ¾ inches (1.9 cm.) in diameter is used to determine the condition on spots 1 foot apart along each transect. The initial measurement of vegetation and soil conditions thus made can best be done early in the season when growth of vegetation makes species determination easiest.

2. Step 2 involves summary and analysis of the data for each cluster of transects. Vegetation is classified into desirable, largely perennial species of grasses; undesirable, largely herbs other than grass which occupy soils after elimination of perennials; and an intermediate group of species. Similarly, the percentage of bare soil is found by analysis of the small samples. Classification of condition and trend then depends on the proportions found to be made up of different groups of vegetation, different proportions of covered and bare soil surface, and the vigor of more important desirable species, all finally summarized into a rating of condition and probable trend.

3. The final step is to establish permanent points for photographs showing each transect in general and a particular small area of it in detail.

To apply the method, a prime requisite is that the worker should be able to identify range species, not an impossible expectation since, for any one range, the number is usually not great. Otherwise the method involves simply system, order and accuracy in recording primary observations.

As a test, the method has been applied successfully to sample range allotments after each allotment has been mapped into areas used and unused by stock, and further into primary areas furnishing most feed and secondary areas furnishing relatively small amounts of feed. These tests have also shown that administrative officers, given training in identification of plants and in the techniques of sampling, can apply the method effectively.



· An FAO technical assistance officer in Chile writes that the portion of the coastal cordillera lying between Rio Valdivia and Rio Bueno, a hilly tract rising to 3,300 feet (1,000 in.) above sea level, roughly 20 miles (32 km.) from north to south and the same from east to west, contains a number of large private forest properties and three blocks of fiscal land. The most valued species is alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides); exploitation of its timber has been going on for the past 35 years. Apart from this, there has been little development in the region which is almost uninhabited.

The growing stands are characterized by sudden changes in composition and quality; there are five main types of forest, of which two are predominantly Fitzroya cupressoides and three predominantly mixed, without cupressoides at all or with only isolated specimens. In the case of the Fitzroya types, which are of particular interest, the main associate species are three other conifers, Pilgerodendron uviforum, Saxegothaca conspicua and Podocarpus nubigenus, the first of which occurs particularly in localities where the growth conditions are wet and the height growth poor; the other two occur mainly in localities where Fitzroya is of better quality.

Stands of alerce of fair to good quality with trees up to 120 feet (37 in.) in height occur in sheltered situations at high elevations. On exposed slopes, flat ridges and plateaux at high elevations, trees are very stunted, sometimes only a few feet high. Alerce, however, seems to be the one species able to withstand the peculiar soil and climatic conditions found here, namely, shallow poor soil derived from the underlying mica schist and gneiss, ordinarily saturated with moisture and sometimes covered with a spongy layer of moss such as sphagum; strong westerly winds; and high rainfall. The mode of occurrence of the Fitzroya types, coupled with the great age of large trees, indicate that they are climax types for the locality.

Unfortunately, these climax types have been affected profoundly by fires and, in the case of the stands of better quality, by exploitation. There are few areas of alerce which have not been affected by forest fires. Particularly in the vicinity of former sawmills and on the high plateaux there are extensive burned forests, which must have been stocked with a dense growth of alerce at one time, judging from the great numbers of dead stems still standing. The damage caused by fire to these alerce forests is particularly calamitous since the trees killed were many centuries old, from the observations made in areas under current exploitation.

The past exploitation though done on a large scale, seems to have been concerned with the removal of only the largest and best trees. In this area there are many killed stems 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7 in.) in girth at breast height. Since both alerce and cipres (Pilgerondendron) timber is very durable, it is probable that much useful timber could be recovered from the killed but still standing trees. A sample of Pilgerodendron uviforum. was cut from a pole which had been killed by fire 30 years ago and which had fallen subsequently to the ground, Apart from a shallow superficial layer of perished sapwood, the pole was perfectly sound.

The few remaining living alerce and cipres on the burned areas are of great importance as potential seed bearers, though fortunately on much of the burned area natural reproduction of these species is adequate, and in certain patches is superabundant, as many as ten plants to the square yard (12 to the sq. meter).

Apart from the forests at high elevations where growth is stunted, a feature of the forests of this region is an exuberant undergrowth of Chusquea quila, which makes progress through the forests difficult, especially in the absence of tracks made either by man or game. This undergrowth fortunately does not seem to impede the natural regeneration of shade tolerant species, notably Saxegothaca conspicua, Podocarpus nubigenus, Drimys winteri and Laurelia serrata.


· The teak forests of Indonesia are almost 100 percent pure, unlike those in Thailand, Burma and India. The popular belief is that teak was introduced by the Hindus from India some ten centuries back and this accounts for the purity of the crop. It is also curious that, with the difference in the rainfall distribution i.e. from November to June in Indonesia as opposed to June to October in other teak producing countries, the flowering and fruiting seasons have adjusted themselves accordingly. Teak usually flowers from May to July in India whereas it starts flowering from December in Indonesia. Experiments with some Indian teak seeds show that the growth of wet zone seeds is very much superior to that of dry zone seeds; in other words so far as growth is concerned, the hereditary character is maintained even under exotic conditions. Another thing of special interest concerns Dalbergia latifolia (Rose wood) and a species of Casuarina. Both these species when interchanged between the north and south of the equator have lost their reproductive capacity. Casuarina, supposed to have been introduced from Thailand and now being extensively planted, does not produce any female flower in Indonesia. Similarly, Dalbergia latifolia brought from India does not produce any fruit under Indonesian conditions and plantations are established by root suckers from older trees.

As far as teak is concerned, the system of management is very intensive and the method of regeneration is clear felling followed by taungya. Unlike India and Burma, sowing of seeds is preferred to stump planting. Leucaena glauca is sown simultaneously to form an underwood mainly for soil protection and this incidentally meets fuel demand and gives an intermediate yield. The rotation is 80 years which is supposed to be a compromise between the financial rotation and rotation of maximum volume production. The present output from final felling is about 115 m3 per hectare. Thinning is carried out at regular intervals and almost everything is saleable. The average increment is estimated to be 2.5 m3 per hectare including small wood.

The protection forests covering the mountain tops and upper slopes contain species of not much economic importance. To meet the increasing demand, part of these forests are being converted into productive forests, and lower slopes are being clear-felled and planted with Pinus merkusii, Eucalyptus salignam and Altingia excelsa. These plantations though not mature, are already yielding good revenue from thinnings which are in demand as fuel. The young plantations of Pinus merkusii are ready for tapping, and turpentine is distilled under departmental supervision. The distillation plants are very antiquated but whatever is being produced has a ready home market.

In very dry areas Melaleuca plantations are being extended on a reasonable scale and essential oil from the leaves is extracted by a crude process but yet is supposed to be a profitable proposition. Much research remains to be done to determine the best season for collection of leaves and for pollarding.

It is almost unbelievable to find that the Forest Service is able to carry out now a planting program of about 40,000 hectares annually against 12,000 hectares during the prewar period. Of course this program has been necessitated by the fact that during the Japanese occupation there had been widespread destruction of forests. Quite a large area of teak had been girdled under the "grow more food" campaign. The dead trees are now about 7 or 8 years old and their removal is an immediate necessity. This large scale program of reforestation is only possible under Java conditions where there is acute land hunger and big areas can be taken up for plantation under taungya system. The soil seems to be fertile and permits growing agricultural crops continuously for 2 to 3 years. The food production from these areas under taungya plantation is estimated to be about 50,000 tons per year.

It is surprising that the teak forests of this country have not many pests such as defoliators and borers. Further, the area does not suffer from fire which has saved all the valuable teak girdled some years back. One would have expected soil deterioration under exposure for such a long period but in practice this has not happened as most of the girdled trees send out coppice shoots which together with shrub growths free from fire have given the necessary shelter to the soil.


· Since 1948 the state of Pennsylvania, through its Department of Forests and Waters; the U. S. Forest Service, through the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station; and the U. S. Geological Survey have together been carrying out a carefully planned forest and water research project. The general purposes are to determine methods of establishing commercial timber stands on the present brush-covered lands resulting from exploitation and repeated mining; to determine the effects on water yields of such conversion; to evaluate relationship between vegetative growth and disposal of precipitated water; to re-establish or replace chestnut which has been destroyed by blight; and to conduct intensive hydrologic studies on extremely small drainage areas.

Planting and direct seeding studies, involving various methods of site preparation, have been initiated, with particular emphasis on advance poisoning of undesirable species since thereby the top soil is less disturbed than when mechanical means are used. Natural regeneration is being encouraged. The geology and soils of the 2,000-acre (809 ha.) experimental area have been studied in detail. Recording devices have been installed to evaluate water gain or loss to the watershed and changes in moisture storage within the area. Ground water levels in test wells, rainfall interception by different densities and types of vegetation, water quality, and soil freezing will be determined as well as the usual elements of climatic data.

The results of all the studies are being analyzed promptly and kept up to date, and accumulated results will be published every two years, thus avoiding the usual delays in making available the results of such studies.

Forest injuries and protection


· An investigation by FAO technical assistance officers of the high mortality rate of Cedrela odorata seedlings in commercial plantations in the province of Yucatan revealed that the primary cause was sunscald (excessive solar heat on tender tissue of young seedlings). An attack by a Buprestid beetle followed in the injured tissues of the scalded area and the insect's mining extended rapidly into healthy tissues, in association with unidentified fungi. Death of the seedlings was due to a combination of the three factors but sun-scald was the primary factor that needed to be prevented. Many surviving trees in the area had old canker-like lesions on the lower part of the main stem which had presumably originated from this kind of damage.


· A United States Patent has been granted for a "device for setting and controlling backfires". The device, a unit designed for pulling behind a truck or other vehicle is capable of setting and extinguishing "backfires- at speeds up to 8 miles (13 km.) per hour in light fuels. Backfires are usually started to burn out the vegetation in front of an uncontrolled fire; when the fire reaches the burned-out area, it dies for lack of fuel.

Considerable interest in this unit has been shown by land management agencies where protection of large grass areas on relatively easy terrain is a primary problem. Burning instead of plowing a fire line leaves the soil unbroken, greatly reducing the possibility of erosion; it is particularly desirable along highway and railroad fire lanes.

One part of the fire-fighting unit that sets the backfires resembles a flame-thrower. The other important component consists of a series of nozzles through which water is sprayed to put out the fire on the outside of the line. The backfire then eats back into the path of the main fire.

· A feature film in technicolor, "Red Skies of Montana," dramatizing the work of the U. S. Forks Service "smoke jumpers," has recently been released by the producers, Twentieth Century-Fox. A special effort is being made by the Forest Service to draw attention to commercial showings of the picture which accurately portrays the smoke jumper's part in fire control. Qualified forest officers served as technical advisers during the making of the film a In Pennsylvania, the fire control programs of about 40 years ago were faced with general gross carelessness and active and heedless use of fire. Between 1911 and 1915, the average annual rate of loss was about 2 ½ percent of the protected area, compared to the 0.1 percent which is now regarded as the correct objective. Attention thus was early centered on the widespread problem of preventing fires, both through educational and propaganda effort and through physical measures such as fireproofing the railroads, which were a major cause of fire.

As experience accumulated, and as starting points of man-caused fires were plotted, it was found that 48 of the state's 1600 townships, while containing 5 percent of the total forest area, accounted for 35 percent of all fires. Special prevention efforts were therefore made in these townships through assignment of special prevention officers, distribution of propaganda material, and by other means. As a result, during the past 15 years the number of fires in the 11 problem "townships"has been reduced to one quarter the number occurring during the early 1930's. Elsewhere, less intensive methods of prevention have been consistently applied. More recently, the number of fires per township accepted as a measure of "problem status" has been reduced and special effort devoted to the township thus identified. Altogether, the numbers of fires grew to a peak of 3,700 per year in the period 1931-35 and have since been reduced to 1,400.

The expanding fire suppression program has reduced the size of the average fire from 340 acres (138 ha.) in the period 1911-15 to 26 acres (10 ha.) in the past five years. Total area burned has been reduced to one tenth of the 360,000 acres (145,000 ha.) formerly burned annually, and forest area burned is down to 0.25 percent of the former annual total. The process of continuing or periodic analysis of the results has been a consistent feature of this 40-year program and has clearly resulted in realistic diagnoses of the localities primarily requiring attention and the form of attention most likely to succeed.

· Fires in southern pine areas commonly spread with great rapidity, and it was early evident that suppression by hand labor alone was insufficient to prevent severe losses, particularly if the successes in fire control resulted in leaving behind even more inflammable material.

During the past 15 years, therefore, several major advances have been made in meeting this problem, including systematic use of fire danger meters; development of radio and its use; development and use of power fire line equipment, which, with a crew of 3 or 4 men produces line as rapidly as 40 or more trained and fresh men using hand tools, and holds burned area to about 20 percent of that under hand operations. In addition, the several states concerned have increased their fire budgets by over four times during the past decades, and far more effective training of fire control personnel is now given through co-operative programs of the various federal and state protection agencies. Prescribed burning is widely used in the southern United States as a silvicultural tool and has had the principal effect on fire control of adding to knowledge of fire behavior under different circumstances and serving as a field training ground for fire control officers.

Both experiences show clearly the critical importance of fire prevention programs aimed at the particular attitudes and practices of particular areas or regions; the critical importance of continuing analysis of results to date; the necessity for imagination and ingenuity in devising new methods of both prevention and suppression when older methods prove by experience to be inadequate. The major conclusion is that, given these qualifications, continuing progress toward really effective fire control can be made, no matter how severe and apparently hopeless the initial situation may have appeared.

Advances in mechanization of various types continues to be rapid. Among those of general interest is the growing practice of using disposable cups, plates, knives, forks and spoons at fire camps to save time, labor and breakage costs; the experiments under way in using disposable sleeping bags made of crinkled kraft paper at fire camps; the testing of a new powered brush-cutting saw weighing 265 lbs; the testing of a new powered fire line building machine which weighs 265 lbs. and will operate on rough ground up to 58 percent in slopes.

Mensuration and surveying


· The Research Division of the British Columbia Forest Service has developed site-class volume tables as an aid to assessing the log content and grade of standing timber of Douglas fir, Western hemlock and Western red cedar. Until recently, grade-cruising has been a personal art possessed by a relatively few highly-experienced timber cruisers. Results could be checked only by measurement of timber after removal, and this kind of visual survey could not be taught to the part-time employees who must do most of the cruising on Crown lands. The new method, on the contrary, can be taught to quite inexperienced cruisers.

Forest management


· The Pakistan Journal of Forestry reports that, considering how difficult it is to persuade owners to surrender their private lands for management by the Forest Department, it is really very creditable that in the Northwest Frontier Province as much as about 50,000 acres (20,000 ha.) of such land has so been obtained. In addition, many other Government waste lands and civil rakhs have also been brought under Forest Department management. The biggest of such areas is the famous Rakh Shaikh Budin in Dera Ismail Khan District which is about 45,000 acres (18,000 ha.). A scheme to afforest it gradually has been sanctioned and is to be jointly financed by the Central Government and the Province. Work has already been started on this scheme.

Another of the many useful schemes which deserves mention is the plantations of Acacia catechu (Khair) in the scrub forests of the Province. The tree occurs naturally in these forests but is not plentiful nor was it much thought of in the past. The demand, and hence the price, of Khair has risen rapidly and is expected to stay high more or less permanently. Plantations are therefore very much "the thing" for the present, and in this Province about 500 acres (200 ha.) are being planted yearly.


· During the past fiscal year the 73 million acres (29.5 million ha.) of commercial forest land within the National Forests produced gross receipts from timber of $65 million, whereas cost of administration, including the return of 25 percent of gross receipts to local governments, was $53 million, thus leaving a net profit to the Federal Treasury of $12 million. Many National Forest areas, totaling 108 million acres (43.7 million ha.) are set aside and managed primarily for values other than commercial timber, notably watershed protection. These lands involve an annual expenditure of $26 million a year, including returns to local governments, although many of the values and services do not result in direct payments to the Treasury.

Gains in capital value of the forest, based on fantastic recent increases in sale values of timber stumpage, have been remarkable. The spectacular increase in dollar returns from these public properties may stimulate the authorities who are responsible for appropriating funds to make possible the required levels of protection, development and management which were never attained during the long period when the National Forests' receipts did not equal expenditures.

· One of the rangeland areas in dispute between the U. S. Forest Service and the range livestock industries has been on the Roosevelt National Forest in the state of Colorado. The public lands were given National Forest status in 1917 after a half-century of abuse from overgrazing, fire and cultivation of sloping lands, and were at that time in a badly deteriorated condition. Management measures were applied, but by the end of the 1930's studies showed that deterioration of watershed and grazing values had not been stopped. Restrictions on range use were introduced, beginning in 1940, and these led to considerable controversy. As a result, the National Forest Advisory Council was asked to examine and report on the ranges in 1949; it recommended that the uses of the land should be given the following priority: 1) watershed values; 2) recreation; 3) grazing; and 4) timber uses.

In the following year, technical officers of the U. S. Forest Service made a detailed study of two selected range units to evaluate the effectiveness of the changes in stocking made to date, so as to determine what additional adjustments or other measures might be needed to obtain desirable range and watershed conditions.

It was found that 96 percent of the useable range was in unsatisfactory condition, but that the trend in forage condition was upward of 78 percent, thus giving some indication that continuation of the present levels of stocking was probably desirable, both for forage production and for improvement of watershed conditions, specifically infiltration capacity of the soils and prevention of erosion. It is proposed that a moderate program of supplementary erosion control be applied to speed up the stabilization of the gullies which presently are major contributors to erosion. In addition, better management of livestock on the range is needed, and control of the size of wild herds should be worked out.

· One of the prime purposes of the forest survey of the U. S. A. is to obtain facts on forests and forest resources and, by combining these with other economic data, to provide a basis for analysis and planning in local, as well as state and national, governmental units. Analysis of the individual county unit has developed the form of combining strictly forest inventory information on forest areas, types, densities, age classes, and site quality, with data on the distribution of ownership of forest lands, both as to kind, intent of ownership, and size classes of ownership.

Recent examples of this type of report for two counties in California show the great differences which exist and which will have to be taken into account in any subsequent efforts to ensure proper forest management. Difficulties in the way of obtaining rational land use include the variable proportions of commercial forest area in public or in private ownership; the fact that substantial proportions of land in private ownership are held for recreational use or as incidental parts of farm properties, with little interest displayed by the owners in proper timber management; and the fact that the large numbers of small holdings aggregate a considerable proportion of the total commercial forest land. Obtaining these primary facts at least represents a solid starting point for intelligent efforts towards proper forest conservation.

Industry and trade


· The lack of co-operation between the different forest industries and their technicians provides one reason for the relatively low standards and sporadic activities of the forest industries in this country. There are signs that timbermen are recognizing the importance of co-operative work. In the Revista Forestal Chilena, a two-year-old Chilean forestry review, mention is made that the first local timber association in the country, ("Associacion de Madereros de Villarrica") was founded in the province of Cautin, in January 1952. This will probably be the signal to start organizing similar associations in other timber centers. The Revista is making energetic efforts to establish a national forestry association, "Sociedad Nacional de Forestadore y Madereros". Such an association could render valuable assistance in improving the forest industries, especially the sawmills, of Chile.


· A company has been established, with the aid of foreign capital but using local labor, to undertake large-scale exploitation of Mangrove bark. The company intends to treat about 200,000 tons of bark annually, the value of which is about $ 27.50 a ton. The bark, pulped by a patent process, is to be used as a wetting agent in the treatment of oil-bearing sediments.

Forest products and their utilization


· Introduced slash pine (Pinus caribaea) and loblolly pine (P. taeda) from 20-year-old plantations in Queensland, Australia, have been found to be similar in properties, with slash pine slightly the superior. Both, however, are inferior to the same species grown in their natural environment in the U.S.A. and in plantations in British Honduras. They are comparable to plantation-grown P. radiata from South Australia but slightly inferior to hoop pine from the same state.


· The following extract is taken from White Man Returns, the latest book by Agnes Keith, wife of H. G. Keith, FAO technical assistance officer directing the Mechanical Logging Training Centre in the Philippines: Today, the most satisfying source of revenue to both natives and Government is the harvesting, sale, and export to China of birds' nests from the fifteen famous cave groups of North Borneo which are a byword wherever birds' nest soup is sipped. The bird's nest industry now brings yearly to this country almost 100,000 dollars, plus a goodly sum for export duty, all acquired at the expense of the birds alone.

The vital ingredient of bird's nest soup is not feathers, sticks, twigs, or grass - but, as is known to epicures, it is the inspissated saliva of adult swiftlets. This is a secretion from the salivary glands of certain swiftlets, with which they make their nests. The saliva hardens on exposure to the air into something like isinglass, and this is the edible ingredient of birds' nests.

Nests are attached at great and inaccessible heights inside the inky chambers of the limestone eaves when the nest-building urge comes to the small, dark-plumaged, white-bellied swiftlet...

Birds' nests are classified in North Borneo as forest produce, and in most cases the caves are in Forest Reserves. For this reason the harvesting, revenue, responsibility for and conservation of the industry, except in the case of a few native-owned eaves, is in the hands of the Forest Department.


· In East Pakistan the chief source of supply of timber Is the natural forest of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. These areas are inaccessible and their proper development requires the building of a road system. This would serve also to develop the agricultural possibilities of the hill tribes reserve where shifting cultivation is practised. An FAO technical assistance officer has carried out a survey of the possibilities of this area and concluded that there was, indeed, great potential forest wealth but since there were no forest industries, no extraction of secondary species could at present be carried out. Many of these appeared suitable as raw materials for plywood matches, chipboards or fibre-boards, all at present imported at high cost. Since breakdowns are frequent in all tropical logging operations, the officer did not recommend any increase in mechanical logging until a proper organization for repair and maintenance bad been built up. The installation of a road system was the first step towards utilizing the secondary hardwoods and could probably lead to doubling the output of the forests.

Utilization is being aided by an FAO sawmilling expert who has planned the re-organization and management of a sawmill in the Chittagong area. This specialist (F. Cermak, France) has also advised replacing hand-sawing in the forest by portable sawmills, such as the French horizontal bandsaw La Forestière or the German horizontal chainsaw Dolmar. At present the average daily output of 1 in. boards by hand-sawing is 1.5 to 2 cubic feet per man, costing 1 ½ to 2 rupees ($ 0.45 to 0.60) per cubic foot. Crews of 2-8 men break up logs in the forest into flitches and cants and these are then floated to consumption centers for re-sawing.

Portable mills cannot produce high grade lumber economically but neither can the stationary mills unless special sawing methods are introduced. Quarter sawing giving the best grade results, is too expensive. Methods found valuable in West Africa are recommended.


· A comparison of properties of teak (Tectona grandis) grown in Trinidad and in Burma has been reported by the Imperial Forestry Institute, Oxford. Tests dealt with static bending, toughness, compression parallel to grain, hardness, and tension parallel to grain, and the resulting mechanical properties. In all cases, the mean value of any particular strength property was higher for the Trinidad-grown material than for that of Burmese origin. The Trinidad teak was 1 pound per cubic foot (16.02 kg. per m3) heavier than the Burma teak, but this difference does not wholly account for the determined figures on strength. It is concluded that the Present silvicultural techniques in Trinidad are satisfactory for producing timber which is superior in strength to natural Burma teak.


· The General Assembly Building in the center of the plot which houses the permanent Headquarters of the United Nations in New York will be completed by September 1952. In its rotunda about 25,000 bd. ft. [59 m3 (s)] of salt treated lumber were installed and similarly treated lumber was used in the two elevator machinery penthouses situated to the north of the dome. The sheathing consists of dressed 1-inch western white spruce, pressure treated with 0.35 lb. of Wolman salt per cubic foot [5.6 kg/m3 (s)], to form a proper base for attaching the copper finish material which overlies the dome and drum of this building.


· Studies in chemical debarking of pulpwood in the state of Washington are following the methods developed in other forest regions. The primary purpose is to facilitate bark removal at any time of year, particularly on young, small, fast-growing trees which are not effectively handled by the usual hydraulic debarking method. A secondary purpose is to reduce the weight of wood, thus permitting larger loads for greater hauling distances. In the experiments, sodium arsenite has been applied in axe-hacked girdlings. So far western hemlock, the true firs, black cottonwood and western red cedar have reacted most favorably, whereas red alder has shown no separation and Douglas fir offers Do encouragement. The work is being continued and expanded to include additional species and the economic aspects of the process.

Forest policy


· The Minister of Agriculture appointed a Commission in 1950 to examine the problem of supplying the iron industries in the state of Minas Gerais with fuelwood and charcoal, which are used almost exclusively in the ore refining processes. Compared to total fuelwood consumption in Brazil, which is about 93 percent of all wood consumption, the smelting works use only a very small proportion. Nevertheless the enquiries of the Commission revealed that in 1950 the 13 works in the State used 1,121,690 m3 of charcoal, 82,978 steres of fuelwood, and 21,427 m3 of industrial wood for the processing of around 51,000 tons of ore. Nearly all the companies own extensive forest tracts to supply their needs (the largest being nearly 150,000 ha.) and these are theoretically cut over on a 25 year rotation. Considerable quantities of charcoal are also purchased on the market.

In 1948 over the whole State about 35 million m3 of wood were extracted from a forested area estimated in 1933 to be about 15 million ha. Since in addition portions of this area suffer annually from fires, the natural forest obviously cannot sustain this drain indefinitely. The forest owned by the companies themselves can probably produce adequate supplies for only 4 or 5 more years, but even so, distances and transport costs will make extraction increasingly expensive.

In the light of these circumstances, the Commission considered that eucalypt plantations, on the scale and following the methods of the Railway Company of Sao Paolo, offered the only solution. The yield from these plantations at an age of 7 to 8 years is around 250 m3 per ha. The Commission therefore drew up plans for each of the iron companies, involving the planting of 93,000 ha. over 10 years. Some companies have already started operations and the biggest employs a well-organized forest service, with complete facilities for its forest workers. The cost of the plantations, at 2,500 plants per ha., will probably vary widely according to the manpower available; estimates range from 2,500 to 7,500 cruzeiros (about $125 to $375 per ha.). The Commission is also proposing plantations for various Railway Companies of the State.


· An official Committee on Forest Policy has recently set up a plan of action for forestry in Fiji. The two main objects are to raise the level of future expenditure to a figure enabling some creative forestry to be attempted and to set up a series of specific goals for forest policy. Formerly, at least on the unofficial side, the atmosphere has been hostile to forestry and earlier attempts to make progress have been unsuccessful. The task faced is far from simple. About one-half of the area is in the tropical rain-forest zone; much of this is inaccessible, and the rest has largely been degraded by continuous exploitation; satisfactory regeneration techniques have not been established. In the dry zones, cultivation, and especially fire, have destroyed the forest and the ground is occupied by grass or weeds. Restoration of tree cover will have to be accomplished by planting. During the past half century at least one third of the timber requirements have had to be imported. To make Fiji self-sufficient in the long run, large capital investments in plantations and their tending would have to be made. The present plan is for planting about 2,000 acres (800 ha.) per annum. An expansion of senior staff is proposed, a training center, and the purchase of equipment. The present area of constituted reserves is only 1.8 percent of the total land area and, even if all areas already preliminarily notified or as yet under discussion were constituted, there would still be only 6.2 percent in constituted reserves. None of the reserves have been demarcated on the ground and they are encroached on by logging and shifting cultivation.


· There are many examples of irrigation schemes where the dam is built to impound a body of water and little thought is given to the stabilization of soil and the reduction of the silt load in the river. In these cases after a few years the efficiency of the dam is impaired by heavy silting. In Haiti the government has very wisely initiated a program of afforestation, erosion control and conservation farming in the watershed before the dam is even begun. In this way the government hopes to have reduced the silt load of the Artibonite River from its estimated 10 million m3 per annum to something that is less frightening and less threatening to the efficiency of the dam.


· An official statement of forest policy for India has been in existence unchanged since 1894. But forest policy must inevitably change with the times. In India a review of forest policy was patently necessary, not only because of changed political circumstances but also because the experience of the past needed to be newly assessed to reveal how the future development of the country could best be charted. As the result of the co-operative efforts of the constituent States, a new statement of forest policy for India was enunciated on 12 May 1952. This is an event of great significance, not only for India but for all the countries of south-east Asia and, indeed, all the Member Governments of FAO. An analysis of this statement of forest policy will be published in a forthcoming issue of Unasylva.

· The great Rajputana desert which covers about 80,000 square miles (21 million ha.) is encroaching towards the fertile plains of the Ganges at a rate of about 800 m. a year, over a front of 160 km. A committee has been set up by the Minister of Food and Agriculture to plan counter measures and the National Institute of Sciences has studied the ways in which afforestation has already served to protect agricultural lands and arrest the desert's advance.

The Commission has recommended establishing an experiment station at Jodhpur under the direction of the Forest Research Institute, Debra Dun. The station is itself to be responsible for making plantations to provide local populations with fuelwood, small timber and grazing for livestock, and for creating windbreaks. In particular a forest belt 8 km. wide and 640 km. in length is to be established along the west frontier of Rajasthan.

These works will be under the Central Government but the State Government is also recommended to increase forest areas and plant accessory windbreaks and shelter belts. Amongst the species that can be used for plantations under the difficult desert conditions are Prosopis juliflora, Azadirachta indica. Ailanthus altissima, and Albizzia lebbeck.


· Commercial planting of exotic conifers began in Kenya soon after 1920 and is now proceeding at an annual rate of over 6,000 acres (2,400 ha.). Cupressus macrocarpa, C. lusitanica, Pinus radiata and P. patula are the most successful species, growing at rapid rates and, on a rotation of 35 years, producing a final crop averaging about 20 inches (50.8 cm.) d.b.h. The trees to form the final crop are pruned to produce clear lumber; thinnings are considerable and are absorbed by the market. The cost of establishing plantations is very low, being done under the "shamba" (i.e. taungya) system whereby cultivators are required to establish the trees and tend them until cultivation shifts to another area.

The Forest Department aims at organizing a 5-10 thousand acre (2-4,000 ha.) forest in each district, each as a "normal" forest with a complete series of age classes. Such a forest of about 7,000 acres (3,000 ha.) would supply annually about 1.4 million cu. ft. (40,000 m3) including thinnings, and would support a large sawmill operating permanently and thus capable of being efficiently organized. If stumpage is sold at reasonable rates, the plantation investment would earn at an estimated 8-10 percent compound interest rate, a higher rate than that at which capital need be borrowed.

The present program is to plant 210,000 acres (85,000 ha.) in 35 years, and of this total 45,000 acres (18,000 ha.) had been planted to the end of 1949. To create a "normal" forest in each district would require considerably more than 35 years.

No complete survey of the existing forests has ever been made and one is badly needed. Partial and preliminary work indicates that as much as 235,000 acres (95,000 ha.) suitable for commercial planting may be found in one division alone, and the total suitable area in Crown Forests may be as much as a million acres (400,000 ha.).

In addition to the commercial coniferous plantations, the forest estate is divided into: (a) merchantable indigenous forests from which most commercial supplies are now being taken; (b) non-commercial indigenous forests having protective values which must be guarded under the agreed forest policy; (c) fuel plantations, mostly of eucalyptus; (d) native forest reserves. The native reserves are operated at a loss, as are the protection forests, and some of the fuel plantations are now superfluous.


· The United States Economic Mission to Liberia, which started its work in 1944, has undertaken a survey of the forest resources that are the least surveyed and most poorly described in West Africa. Over two years an attempt was made to determine approximate age, volume, composition, quality, distribution, and exploitation possibilities of the forests and to recommend a program for protection, development and rational utilization. Aerial photographs covering nearly all the country were used in planning the field work, but their use was limited because the closed canopies of the high forest prevent complete data being obtained. Major water drainage systems could, however, be readily determined from the photographs. Forest areas were classified as low bush, including areas recently farmed with no true canopy and covered with tangled growth; broken bush, including areas where the high-level canopy was broken and gross merchantable volume was 5,000 board feet or less per acre (56 m3 per ha.); high forest, including areas with an unbroken closed canopy with volume exceeding 5,000 board feet per acre (56 m3 per ha.), the latter subdivided by 5,000 feet classes.

In the field work, one acre plots 33 feet wide (0.4 ha. 10 m. wide) on each side of the trail were made and selected sample plots were measured in the higher volume forests. Merchantable trees were defined as those with a minimum diameter of 2 feet (61 cm.) outside bark above butt swelling and containing one or more merchantable logs. Volumes were estimated by the International ¼-inch log rule. It was necessary to undertake dendrological work, and 235 species were identified and cross-checked, where necessary, with major reference collections such as the Kew Herbarium in the United Kingdom. This work added greatly to the primary knowledge of Liberian forests and trees.

Rainfall is a dominant factor in forest vegetation. In the belt near the coast, receiving over 125 inches (300 mm.) of rain annually, there are typical evergreen rain forests; further inland, in a belt receiving from 75 to 125 inches (200 to 300 mm.) there are deciduous forests; and in the northern areas with less than 75 inches there are savannah-type forests intermingled with grasslands.

It was necessary to estimate population, and this was done by hut counts and sampling of the average number of occupants. This, though a meager basis, indicated a total population of between 1 and 1.1 million. The total working population of able-bodied adult males is probably not over 150,000, and no more than one third could be diverted from subsistance agriculture.

Transportation of all types is seriously lacking. Motor roads reach only a small part of the forest area, and most of these are not good enough to permit heavy duty log or lumber hauling. The useable road system taps no more than 5 percent of the useable high forest area. A deep water harbor, recently opened, could be a great stimulus to timber development and trade. At present, foot trails and bead loads are the lifelines of interior Liberia, loads averaging 50 pounds (23 kg.) and daily mileage about 25.

There has never been a significant forest industry. Logs were exported in the 19th century, and limited timber utilization in the immediate coastal areas has gone on during the present century. There are only a few small circular sawmills operating intermittently. Wood exports are valued at only one sixth of the $75,000 paid for imports. Annual consumption of fuelwood is 45 million cu. ft. (1.27 million m3), 95 percent of which comes from dead or dying trees on farm clearings; secondary uses absorb 2 million cu. ft. (56,000 m3) of timber annually, and a wide variety of minor products used as food, medicine or for household purposes comes from the forests. Domestic markets are small.

There is much raw material for large-scale commercial forest operations. The current British and French trials with West African woods is adding greatly to the knowledge of Liberian species and may eventually lead to commercial acceptance of species not now utilized.

Originally from 90 to 95 percent of the country was covered with high forests. At present, high forest area is only 38 percent, broken bush 20 percent, low bush 22 percent, and non-forest, which includes cleared cultivated plantation and inland water areas, 20 percent.

There is no simple or readily applicable system of type classification for the forests, but broad vegetational zones may be used to divide the country into coastal forest and mangrove swamps, 2 percent; evergreen rain forest, 47 percent; transitional forest, 10 percent; deciduous forest, 40 percent; savannah and park forest, 1 percent.

The conservation problems include the setting aside of a forest estate, establishing silviculture and management, controlling use of land for agriculture, curbing fire used in conjunction with agriculture, and other lesser factors as well.

Commercial exploitation depends above all on construction of roads or other means of transportation, and development of markets for currently unknown or secondary woods. There are additional associated resources - water, wildlife and fish - which can become valuable for the people of the country.


· The Chief of the U. S. Forest Service has announced, as reported in the last issue of Unasylva, a comprehensive review of the timber resources of the United States which will be completed within two years. The last similar review was based on data up to 1945, and heavy use of forests since then has made the new project necessary. It is proposed to bring information on timber resources up-to-date; to re-analyze prospective requirements, supplies and growth of timber; appraise current timber conservation programs; and set out a future course for American forestry. Advice and help will be sought from all appropriate agencies, industries and conservation programs.

The recent publication of forest survey reports for individual states and regions gives special emphasis to the need for the truly comprehensive nation-wide job now planned. This is particularly true where re-surveys have been completed after 12 to 15 years, thus giving two points in time and identifying trends in local situations. For example, such data are now available for two southern states, Mississippi and South Carolina, in both of which forests are of great importance both regionally and nationally. In Mississippi it is found that the timber products industries rank just behind farming as a major part of the state economy; that, although forest acreage increased 2 percent between surveys, timber volume, quality and size decreased, total volume declining 10 percent and sawlog volume even more. Sustained heavy use of forests continues, due to overcutting, the use of smaller, poorer quality and formerly less desirable trees and species, and by expanding output of secondary products. Most management on the 90 percent of the forest in private ownership is poor, although there is good management on larger industrial holdings; present outlook is for contraction in important wood-using industries unless management improves rapidly; better management can eventually create a resource capable of meeting all foreseeable timber needs, and better cutting practices, utilization, protection against fire and grazing are major elements in improving management.

In South Carolina, with 62 percent of the total area under forest, the re-survey shows that the situation is broadly similar. Total timber volume decreased 5 percent and saw timber volume by 10 percent and by more in certain areas; timber use for pulp and lumber, veneer and other products has expanded greatly; severe overcutting, particularly of the best timber but also of smaller pole timber as well, has increased; growing population and increasing income indicate that no reduction of forest drain is in sight; forest growth is far short of the potential, the measures required to improve it being similar to those in Mississippi and elsewhere.

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