Global survey on durability variation - on the effect of the reference species

Rod Stirling, Gry Alfredsen, C. Brischke, Imke De Windt, Lesley P. Francis, Eva Frühwald Hansson, Miha Humar, Joran Jermer, M. Klamer, Magdalena Kutnik, P.E. Laks, Isabelle le Bayon, Sini Metsä-Kortelainen, L. Meyer-Veltrup, P.I. Morris, Jack Norton, Tripti Singh, Joris van Acker, Jan van den Bulcke, T.M. VenåsHannu A. Viitanen, A.H.H. Wong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientific


Climate change due to anthropogenic emissions is the largest environmental challenge of our time. Forest-based value chains play an important role in reducing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. Maximizing the use of wood to tackle climate change requires improved understanding of the service life of timber products. This information can best be obtained from field testing and while there is an abundance of field performance data from sites all over the world, most of the data are not available in a form that can be utilised for service life models. The IRG Durability Database aims to improve the usability of existing performance data and create added value for durability research and service life prediction. The present paper takes the first steps in comparing global field test performance data from the IRG Durability Database for non-durable reference species. Data were obtained from six species above ground and ground contact field tests from 36 sites around the world. For each dataset, decay rates and service life (where applicable) were calculated. Datasets were then grouped together based on test method and species. Decay rate was faster and more uniform in ground contact than above ground. In ground contact, beech decayed most rapidly, followed by Norway spruce and Scots pine sapwood. All appeared to be suitable for use as reference species, however slow-grown spruce should be avoided. There were no statistically significant correlations between ground contact decay rate and the Scheffer Climate Index (SCI). In above ground tests, differences in decay rate were largely related to differences in moisture dynamics. Species with the greatest absorption and retention of water decayed most rapidly. Test methods that absorbed and retained the most moisture (e.g. painted L-joints) resulted in more rapid decay. Above ground decay rate and SCI were significantly correlated in two data sets that had a wide range of SCI values. Correlations were not significant when only European test sites were included. Estimating decay rate from field testing results in highly variable data. Comparing data from global test sites is made more difficult by the absence of common field testing standards.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 47th IRG Annual Meeting
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeB3 Non-refereed article in conference proceedings
Event47th IRG Annual Meeting - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 15 May 201619 May 2016

Publication series

SeriesIRG Annual Meeting Proceedings


Conference47th IRG Annual Meeting


  • durability
  • field testing
  • modelling
  • service life prediction
  • variability


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