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The work of FAO

Research tour of the international poplar commission, April 1948
Forestry and forest products at the FAO annual conference, 1948
The third meeting of FAO's committee on wood chemistry
Inter-American conference on the conservation of renewable natural resources
Reconvened third session of FAO/ECE timber committee
Industrial development and trade in Europe
UNESCO discusses the newsprint situation

Research tour of the international poplar commission, April 1948

The second annual meeting of the International Poplar Commission was held in Italy with, sessions in Milan, Venice, and Casale Monferrato. In the course of these meetings, questions on the agenda were discussed and plans were ad-opted for the establishment of' a draft nomenclature of European poplars and for the preparation of card indexes for identifications and wood tests. Other recommendations related to the control of varieties, combating parasites, and studies on consumption. The results of this work, together with the recommendations, are embodied in the final report of the Commission.

Black Italian poplar, Populus carolinensis, measuring 4.42 meters in circumference, 1.50 m. from the ground. This tree is in the grounds of a private villa near Torviscosa, Venetia.

Members of the Commission and numerous guests took part in a research tour organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in the Valley of the Po. Among the organizers of the tour were Professor Pavari, Director of the Institute of Silviculture in Florence; Professor Piccarolo, Director of the Institute of Experimental Poplar Cultivation; and Professor Giordano, a member of the General Forestry Administration in Rome. Industrial firms of northern Italy also contributed to the organization of the tour and their engineers spared no pains to provide the members of the Commission with information.

In the course of the tour, members of the Commission sought to identify the species of poplars they saw, studied the different uses of poplar wood, and identified the diseases and insects that cause most serious damage to plantations.

Identification of Poplars

While traveling across the Piedmont, Lombardy, and Venetia, the Commission identified poplars and sought to ascertain their origin. To achieve this purpose, the Commission examined some of the original types, indigenous and foreign. The introduction of the latter into Italy dates back probably to the end of the 18th century. The Commission went to the shores of Lake Maggiore at Leso, where they saw two superb specimens of the black variety, both male and female, in the park of Morra of Lavriano, near Villa Stellone. In this park there is a collection of magnificent poplars centuries old among which are Populus alba, P. carolinensis (male and female), and numerous hybrids in which the characteristic of P. serotina, angulata, marylindica, virginiana, etc., can be recognized. Members of the Commission also examined a magnificent black Italian poplar, carolinensis, on the grounds of a villa near Torviscosa, the circumference of which reached 4.42 meters.

Among the various industrial stands they visited few were of a pure type; most were a mixture of hybrids. It appears that the method adopted by industrial users has been maximum utilization of natural hybrids without waiting for the result of experiments. This method appears to have been largely successful. It has certain disadvantages, however, because the requisites for successful poplar culture are not always realized under natural conditions, and the hybrids produced are not necessarily the best.

Mr. Régnier, who is a director of research in agronomy and a member of the Commission, considers that three poplars have played a fundamental part in the hybridization: the black poplar, which is still abundant in the valley of the Po; the carolinensis, which was introduced from France in both types, male and female; and a Canadian poplar, which must be the virginiana judging from the leaf shape of hybrids derived from it. It seems that in Lombardo-Venetia the black poplar and Virginian poplar were predominant, while in Piedmont the influence of carolinensis was more marked. The characteristics of the black poplar of the pyramidal variety were also very noticeable.

While examining these industrial stands, the Commission also paid attention to the natural stands of black poplars between Bolzano and Trentino in the Adige Valley, where natural seedlings were observed. Other stands derived from sowings were inspected, such as those at the Villafranca School, in which the diversified origins of the trees are noticeable. These have been established in very favorable soils and produce trees that are exploitable in 12 to 15 years. In some cases they reach dimensions exceeding 2.3 meters during that period. The Commission visited the Experimental Station at Casale Monferrato, where careful research in the field of hybridization is being carried out. Special efforts are made there to find breeds that grow rapidly and are resistant to defoliation caused by parasites. The character of certain clones, Nos. 154, 214, and 455, answering these qualifications, was ascertained.

Utilization of Poplar Wood

The Commission inspected the principal industries using poplar wood in northern Italy. These are mainly mechanical pulp and plywood factories. Mechanical pulp plays a very important part in newsprint, since it forms 75 percent of its total components. As regards plywood, whether made of poplar only or with an external ply of hardwood, it is in great demand in all building operations. The most used type for this purpose is the black poplar or hybrids derived from it, while the white poplar is not used at all, being mechanically unsuitable for veneer peeling.

Two-year-old plantation on the Zoppa estate, Stagno Lombardo. Defoliation is caused by parasites.

The Pineda Forest belonging to the SAFFA. Section of a hybrid poplar tree showing the Carolina poplar influence.

The present consumption of poplar wood in Italy is estimated to be about 1 million cubic meters, but it is not yet sufficient to meet Italy's needs in mechanical and chemical pulps. In Italy, poplar wood is used, of course, for many other purposes, including the production of matches, packing cases, clogs, lumber, etc.

Diseases and Insects

In Italy, the poplar is free from certain diseases which are endemic in neighboring countries; it is especially resistant to the dripping canker. Certain stands, however, are affected by parasitic defoliation, and the Commission also noticed a number of massive attacks of sawfly in the forests of the SAFFA at Stagno-Lombardo.

Research on parasitic defoliation is being actively pursued under the guidance of Professor Piccarolo, of the Experimental Station of Populiculture at Casale Monferrato.

The poplar is closely related to the whole Italian agricultural economy. It is used to improve health conditions in swampy lands; as in Venetia, it is grown on certain parts of the Adriatic coast swept by salt winds, it is used as a wind break between cultivated fields in the whole of northern Italy, it is a means of utilizing to great advantage the alluvial plains of the Po. In the rice fields of the Piedmont, poplar is closely related to the cultivation of this grain, since the annual flooding of the fields produces the necessary moisture for the growth of the tree. Even in industrial plantations, where trees are exploited on a 15-year rotation, lucern and maize are often planted between the rows during the first five years. Experts consider that in Italy any planting of poplars not integrated to crops would be irrational.

Forestry and forest products at the FAO annual conference, 1948

The Council of FAO (World Food Council) met in Washington 17 to 20 August to consider with the Director-General the advance preparations for the Fourth Session of the Conference to be held in Washington. Since then the Division of Forestry and Forest Products has been actively concerned with the other divisions and services of FAO in bringing these preparations to completion.

The Agenda for the Conference includes:

1. Annual review of the world situation and outlook in respect to production, marketing, and consumption of food, agricultural products, fish, and timber,

2. Consideration of the technical activities of FAO during the preceding twelve months, and its program of action for the ensuing year.

3. Discussion of major constitutional, administrative, and financial issues, particularly of the budget for the next fiscal year.

The Conference may choose to assign consideration of these subjects to three Commissions, as at Geneva last year. In that case, Commission I will probably be the body concerned with the World Food and Agriculture situation, and its work is likely to center on two basic documents prepared by the FAO secretariat, both of which contain a considerable amount of material, supplied by the Division of Forestry and Forest Products.

These documents are entitled The State of Food and Agriculture, 1948, a survey of world conditions and prospects, and National Progress in Food and Agriculture Programs, a summary and analysis of the annual Progress and Program reports submitted by member governments in compliance with Article XI of the FAO Constitution.

The first of these documents is addressed not only to the FAO Conference but also to the general public. In spite of limitations and imperfections due to inadequate data, it delineates the central issues clearly enough and shows, firstly, that much more is being done to expand production around the world than is generally realized; secondly, that what is being done, although so noteworthy, is far from sufficient to make any significant improvement upon the living standards of most peoples.

Apart from being treated in the general world review of the current situation and trends, forestry and forest products are dealt with separately under the regional breakdown adopted in the document. In the chapter on commodity situations, the current position with regard to the major forest products is discussed, including sawn lumber, pulp and paper, pitprops, railway sleepers (crossties), plywood, and fiberboards. Finally, under the section on "Tools for Production," forestry equipment is given brief consideration.

Self-sown stand of 14-year-old trees at the Technical College, Villa Franca. Average volume of trees: 2 m3.

In National Progress in Food and Agriculture Programs, forestry and forest products are dealt with particularly in Chapter V, which discusses Improvement of Forest Legislation and Administration; Improvement of Forestry Educational Facilities; Expansion - of Forestry and Forest Products Research; Improvement of Forest Inventories; Increased Reforestation and Extension of Areas under Systematic Working Plans; Trends of Production and Improvement of National Supplies; Trends in Industrial Capacity; Relationship Between Volume of Fellings and Annual Growth.

Only those countries which actually reported to FAO are treated, and therefore perhaps a too fractional and unbalanced picture is presented of world progress in forestry.

A second Commission will presumably be concerned with the technical activities of FAO. The basic document in this case will be the Work of FAO, 1947-48, the report of the Director-General to the Fourth Session. In this document the activities of the Forestry and Forest Products Division are concisely dealt with. Supplementing the report, certain other documents will be available, such as the report of the Latin-American Forestry Conference at Teresopolis, the report of the European Forestry and Forest Products Commission, the FAO Yearbook of Forest Products Statistics, Forest Resources of the World, current issues of UNASYLVA, and reports of the FAO/ECE Timber Committee.

The Commission will also have before it the draft Program of Work for 1949, together with an appraisal of the means and resources to carry it out. In this document, the program of the Forestry and Forest Products Division reflects a selection, approved by the Standing Advisory Committee, of the most urgent tasks from the many that the Division should be undertaking, if funds and staff were available.

The division will, of course, be actively concerned in the proceedings of the Conference. It expects to gain guidance from the Conference discussions and decisions as to the pattern of its work program and the relative priority of its projects. Particularly the division hopes for co-ordination of its regional efforts, so that the evolution of its world forest policy may be carried a stage further.

The third meeting of FAO's committee on wood chemistry

FAO's Committee on Wood Chemistry held at its third meeting in Cleveland, Wisconsin, U.S.A., on 14-15 August 1948, under the chairmanship of Dr. H. Mark, Director of the Polymer Research Institute at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. The following delegates attended:

Belgium. - J. Istas, Chemical Research Laboratory, Ministry of Colonies, Tervuren

Canada. C. Greaves, Forest Products Laboratory, Ottawa

United Kingdom. W. G. Campbell, Officer-in -Charge, Chemistry Section, Forest Products Research Laboratory, Princes Risborough

Netherlands. J. Al, Director of Patents, Department, T.N.O., The Hague

Sweden. H. G. Erdtman, Institute of Technology, Stockholm; Mrs. G. Aulin-Erdtman, Swedish Forest Products Lab oratory, Stockholm

United States. J. A. Hall, Director, Forest Service Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Portland, Oregon; E. C. Jahn, Professor of Forest Chemistry, New York State College of Forestry, Syracuse; H. F. Lewis, Dean, The Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin; R. C. MacDonald, Secretary, Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, New York; A. J. Stamm, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison

FAO. P. Terver; N. de Felsovanyi

The agenda included a report prepared by G. I. Drake of the Simpson Logging Company, read and commented upon by Dr. Hall, which dealt with endeavors by a number of companies on the West Coast to integrate the forest industries of the western United States. Mr. Terver reported on the installation of integrated wood operations in the tropical regions.

A lengthy discussion followed on the development of "forestry combines," mainly in undeveloped areas.

The possibility of educational exchanges in the field of wood chemistry was developed in a report presented by Professor Jahn. Various suggestions were made by delegates for a more extensive exchange of teachers, students, and literature. Special questionnaires are to be prepared and sent out by FAO, which when completed will list institutions, experts, and existing facilities in the field of wood chemistry.

Mr. MacDonald presented a paper oil nomenclature, testing and specifications. In close collaboration with competent national organizations, FAO is to prepare a nomenclature establishing the standard usage of technical terms.

The chairman, Dr. Mark, reviewed the work done during the second meeting of the Committee, held at Geneva on 14-15 May 1948. He then gave a general outline of the work being done by noted European experts in wood cellulose chemistry.

A plan to hold a World Chemistry Congress in Stockholm during the summer of 1949 was disclosed by Professor Erdtman of Sweden. Precise details were not worked out, but it was decided to hold the next meeting of FAO's Committee on Wood Chemistry in Stockholm in conjunction with the World Chemistry Congress.

Finally, the delegates unanimously adopted the committee's program of work for 1948-49 as presented by the secretariat. This includes a number of detailed studies of technical and economic questions and general surveys of chemical industries in connection with FAO's work project for the development of "forestry combines," especially in undeveloped areas. Special attention will be given to the study of processing heterogeneous mixtures of species such as are found, for instance, in tropical regions, since the possibility of utilization of their woods in mechanical industries is limited.

The possibilities of exchange in research and education are to be thoroughly explored. The drafts of the questionnaires proposed, relating to research facilities in wood chemistry, are to be drawn up by the secretariat and submitted to the committee for final approval.

Inter-American conference on the conservation of renewable natural resources

This Conference was held by the Government of the United States at the request of the Pan-American Union at Denver Colorado, U.S.A., 7-20 September 1948.

The President and first Vice-President elected by the Conference were Charles F. Brannan, U. S. Secretary of Agriculture, and Pedro Castro Monsalvo, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Industry for Colombia.

The Conference was attended by delegations from all the Latin-American countries and the United States. Canada, ECOSOC, UNESCO, FAO, Inter-American Economic and Social Council, Pan-American Union, and Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Sciences sent observers. FAO observers were J. D. B. Harrison of the Division of Forestry and Forest Products and J. L. Buck of the Agriculture Division. In addition, there were numerous authors of papers and observers for conservation societies in attendance.

In several cases the delegations were beaded by ministers of agriculture or directors of agricultural services. Senior forestry officials from Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and the United States were members of delegations. The total number of Latin-American representatives was close to 100.

The Executive Vice-President, Mr. Kelchner of the U. S. State Department, and the Secretary-General, William Vogt of the Pan-American Union, were appointed by the President of the United States. They were assisted by officials of the State Department in making arrangements for the Conference.

The opening and closing sessions of the Conference were held in the State Capitol, and the final meeting was addressed briefly by President Harry S. Truman. According to the program, the main work of the Conference was organized in six sections, but, in fact, each "section" represented one day's meetings of all the delegates. Twelve to 14 papers were delivered each day, and, since all of them were read in extenso, there was not much time for discussion, Motion pictures on conservation were shown in the evening. The organization was excellent and attendance at all meetings was remarkably good although the program was heavy.

Four field trips were arranged to the Arapahoe and Pike National Forests, the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Cherry Creek Soil Conservation District, and the one-day remodeling demonstration of the John Race farm in the Cherry Creek region. The latter demonstration was spectacular, with probably half a million dollars worth of equipment in simultaneous operation. It is to be hoped that the use of so vast an array of high-powered machines to carry out relatively simple conservation measures will not discourage representatives of underdeveloped countries from attempting similar tasks with more modest means.

The reports presented at the Conference were, for the most part, of a general nature. They discussed the pressing need for conservation in terms of population pressure, soil erosion, and related aspects.

The discussions - on Renewable Resources" and "International Relations" were of particular interest. In the final three papers Dillon S. Myer described the work of the Institute for Inter-American Affairs; Secretary Brannan outlined co-operation between the United States and the Latin-American countries; and Carlos Fynn, Chief of Soil Classification and Conservation for Uruguay, recommended the establishment of a new organization, which might be called the Inter-American Natural Resources Conservation Administration and which should depend on some existing international organization. The actual work that FAO is doing in Latin America was outlined for the information of the delegates, and special reference was made to the Latin-American Forestry and Forest Products Conference held at Teresopolis, Brazil, in April 1948. Statements were heard from the Pan-American Union, Inter-American Economic and Social Council, and the Inter-American Institute for Agricultural Sciences. It seemed to be the feeling of the delegates that co-ordination of the work of existing organizations would have to be carried further. Consideration of this point was referred to a subcommittee, consisting of representatives of a number of countries and organizations, which made preliminary recommendations to the Resolutions Committee.

The resolutions adopted by the Conference included a recommendation for the establishment of a joint committee, representing the Pan-American Union, FAO, and the Inter-American Institute for Agricultural Sciences, to co-ordinate conservation activities in Latin America. Governments of the countries represented at the Conference were called on to assure rational use of their forests, in accordance with the recommendations of the Latin-American Conference on Forestry and Forest Products.

It seems likely that the technical sections of the United Nations Scientific Conference on the Conservation and Utilization of Resources, which is to be held next spring, and which will be devoted to the exchange of experience in the application of conservation techniques, will be a fitting sequel to the Denver Conference in so far as the Latin-American countries are concerned.

Reconvened third session of FAO/ECE timber committee

The third session of the Timber Committee was reconvened at Geneva on 13 September, under the chairmanship of Bernard Dufay (France). Delegations of fifteen European countries and the United States of America met to continue their efforts to secure the export of additional timber through 1949, 1950, and 1951 against the supply of equipment for timber-exporting countries.

Importing countries willing to supply the type of equipment needed by the timber exporters included Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Discussions revealed that a considerably greater amount of equipment was available in Europe than had been anticipated on the basis of earlier calculations.

Delegates of countries seeking equipment came from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Sweden is not asking for equipment and the Swedish delegates were in a position to offer such supplies. Luxembourg was also represented. The International Bank for "Reconstruction and Development was represented by Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Stephens of the Loan Department and Mr. Nurich of the legal staff, while Marcel Leloup and Egon Glesinger represented FAO.

Agreement was reached on important aspects of the plan. Final details remain to be settled, however, between individual countries and with the International Batik.

Industrial development and trade in Europe

The third session of ECE, acting on the initiative of the Soviet delegation, directed the attention of governments to the problems of increasing European production and trade through co-operative action.

To study these problems, ECE created an ad hoe committee on Trade and Development, and the secretariat produced a report to assist this committee in its deliberations. While tentative in its suggestions, the report presented a constructive analysis of the possibilities. The staff of FAO's European Forestry Working Group at Geneva contributed to its preparation by producing a study of the problem of timber development in Europe.

The main way in which international action can be effective in developing higher productivity in Europe lies through increases in trade between the less developed and the more industrialized countries, which, with exceptions, implies countries of eastern and western Europe. West Europe has for a long time constituted the greatest timber market in the world, with the United Kingdom by far the most important individual buyer. On the other hand East Europe has timber resources which, after food products, offer the most important means for an exchange of trade. It is for this reason that FAO, with ECE, has striven to stimulate the flow of timber products, particularly sawn softwood, from east to west. The FAO/ECE Timber Committee recognized that increased imports of capital equipment would be required before an expansion of production could take place, hence its great interest in the forestry equipment procurement scheme mentioned elsewhere in this issue.

Beyond this scheme, however, all countries of central and eastern Europe attach great hopes to the development of integrated forest industries ("forestry combines") and one or several units are included in certain national development programs. There can be little doubt that they could fill a real need in Europe's economy, and would reduce dependence on imports from overseas. This applies not only to timber, pitprops, and pulp, but particularly to the new products of forest industries such as fibers, alcohols, and food concentrates.

One of Europe's basic troubles is that it has never used its resources to full effectiveness, as the ad hoe committee recognized at its meeting at Geneva in September. The main result of this meeting was the setting up of a special committee for the development of inter-European trade. It is to be hoped that, through the efforts of this committee and of the existing commodity groups within ECE a fuller utilization of European resources will become possible, which will help reduce Europe's general deficit in overseas payments.

UNESCO discusses the newsprint situation

At the August meetings of UNESCO's Commission on Technical Needs in Paris, some time was devoted to consideration of the report of the Press Sub-Commission on the newsprint situation.

UNESCO's procedure in sending experts into various key countries to make personal investigations has yielded excellent results, and the organization probably possesses at present the most complete and up-to-date information on newsprint.

The Press Sub-Commission, in its report, stressed the continuing serious world shortage of newsprint, which tends to hinder freedom of expression.

Although this over-all shortage is decreasing gradually as production recovers from wartime dislocations, the output in many countries is still far below the full capacity of the mills. This idle mechanical capacity results mainly from a shortage of necessary raw materials, which in some cases are not being produced or cannot be purchased because of currency restrictions. In some cases pulpwood or wood pulp is being diverted to other purposes and newsprint mills are being used for other production.

In the opinion of the Sub-Commission, the necessary increase in production could be achieved without undue delay by restoration of all idle capacity to full production.

The Sub-Commission therefore recommended that a) top priority should be given to the production of newsprint, b) the attention of other international bodies should be drawn to the prime importance of newsprint and to the prevention of the diversion of pulpwood to other uses and, finally, c) UNESCO should enlarge its surveys regarding newsprint production, consumption, manufacturing policy, prices, taxes, and trade regulations, in conjunction with organizations and associations working in the same field.

Roy Cameron, Chief of FAO's European Forestry Working Group, attended the UNESCO meetings to represent FAO's interests. The need for co-ordination of policies among the interested international agencies is recognized, particularly in the collection of statistics on pulp and newsprint. The Commission on Technical Needs recommended that the question be referred to FAO's forthcoming preparatory conference on wood pulp problems. UNESCO, will be represented at this conference.

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