Wood and wood-based products can play a key role in reducing the global use of non-renewable resources in providing a sustainable world for the future. Wood-based material are generally low in embodied CO2 and can be gained from sustainable forest resources. Wood has numerous advantages compared to other building materials, such as a high strength–weight ratio, good thermal insulation, easy machinability, and appealing aesthetics. However, wood products' durability against different biological agents can be limited and requires consideration when wood is exposed to moisture, and thus to favorable conditions for decay, as well as wood-destroying insects and marine borers. In highly hazardous applications, or depending on the wood species being used, the natural durability of wood is often insufficient, and wooden elements need to be protected by design or the wood durability can be enhanced through wood preservatives or modification systems.
Throughout the last century, there has been a discernible trend globally to move from highly effective wood preservatives that nevertheless cause unacceptable harm to human health and/or the environment, to more innovative approaches in providing functional wood durability. This long established trend continues to this day, although globally the rate of change and market acceptance varies from region to region and even between countries in any given region. The rate of change also varies depending on the potential exposure of the materials to humans, and/or the critical nature of the use.
The science of wood protection is by nature multi-disciplinary, and can encompass elements of forestry, wood science, mycology, entomology, physics, chemistry, engineering, and technology. Progress in modern wood protection development usually includes two or more of these elements, making the field highly accepting of multi-institutional approaches to solving complex challenges.
The IRG provides the global forum for research on the broad scientific reach within wood protection science, including method development, experimental studies, monitoring approaches, models, product development, environmental aspects, etc in order to promote knowledge about wood durability science and strategies for the protection and preservation of wood-based materials, structures and building components.