IRG54 Report: World’s Leading Wood Scientists Meet in QLD

Day 1 Full Highlights from the International Research Group conference on Wood Protection

Mon 29 May 23


The 54th International Research Group on Wood Protection (IRG) conference is underway, with 190 delegates from 27 countries meeting in Cairns.

The IRG is the premier international forum for wood protection – with the annual conference covering all wood durability and protection aspects.

This is the third time the IRG annual meeting has been held in Australia, with the first at Surfer’s Paradise in 1983 and the second in Brisbane in 2003 – both covered by Wood Central’s Senior Editor Jim Bowden.

Welcome to the Conference

On Monday, attendees were welcomed by IRG president Dr. Lone Ross, Head of the Norwegian Institute of bioeconomy research, forest resources, Department of Wood Technology, and Professor Jeffery Morrell, head of the IRG54 Organising Committee.

Professor Jeff Morrell is the Director of the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life at the University of the Sunshine Coast and provided the first keynote presentation of the conference focused on “Wood Protection in Australia.”

Keynote Presentation – Wood Protection in Australia

Professor Morrell’s expertise is in wood deterioration and its prevention, where he has undertaken research to identify the fungi associated with the deterioration process, assess the potential for biological control of decay, methods for improving wood treatments, and systems for arresting decay once it has been initiated.

Professor Morrell originally trained as a forester because he wanted to save trees, but sees his career as having worked to achieve that through extending the service life of timber, thereby reducing the need to harvest additional wood.

Day 1 Scientific Papers

On the first day there were 22 scientific papers delivered on the first day of the conference, including:

  • Lucy Martin’s “Assessing changes in hardness of furfurylated wood on a nano-scale to mimic levels experienced by the marine wood-boring crustacean Limnoria”
  • Christian Brischke’s “Simulations of microclimates for wood-destroying fungi in the built environment using environmental analysis”
  • Dennis Jones’s “Recent studies into improved fire retardancy of wood undertaken at Luleå University of Technology”
  • Qiliang Liu’s “Emerging wood nanotechnologies towards sustainable application and preservation”
  • Andre Siraa’s “Environmental benefits of wood preservation”

In total more than 100 scientific papers were delivered at the conference.

A full list of presentation papers is available from the programme below:

Honorary Life-Long Membership

The conference awarded lifelong memberships to Dr. Holger Militz and Jack Norton.

Dr. Militz is the Head of Wood Biology and Protection at the German Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Dr. Militz is a multi-award-winning scientist, specialising in wood decay, protection, modification, and drying and has been published more than 400 times.

Jack Norton is the Secretary of the Timber Preservers Association of Australia (TPAA) and a member of the local organising committee for IRG54. With a background in chemistry, MR. Norton has given more than 50 years of service to the industry.

This year’s Honorary Life Long Members Jack Norton and Dr. Holger Militz, with current IRG president Lone Ross and incoming IRG president Rod Stirling.

Honorary Life-Long Members are scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the aims, functions, organisation or standing of IRGWP whilst in Regular Membership which is of a quality demanding extraordinary recognition.

The Ron Cockcroft Award

More than 15 Ron Cockcroft Awards were awarded – 12 for 2023 and 3 for 2022. The Ron Cockcroft Award is a merit-based program to promote international awareness of developments in research in wood protection.

Young researchers drive the conference’s health with many contributing papers at IRG54.

A new IRG President

The IRG announced that Dr. Lone Ross will be stepping down as President and will be replaced by Vice-President Dr. Rod Stirling, a Canadian who strongly focuses on protecting wood products from degradation and disfigurement.

“My areas of research include understanding natural durability, improving protection from weathering, decay, mould and sapstain, understanding and enhancing the activities of organic and copper-based wood preservatives, and developing on-line methods of wood product characterisation,” he said.

Dr. Stirling is the Manager of the Bioproducts Team at FPInnovations.

FPInnovations is a private, not-for-profit organisation that specialises in the creation of solutions in support of the Canadian forest sector’s global competitiveness.

It is ideally positioned to perform state-of-the-art research, develop advanced technologies, and deliver innovative solutions to complex problems for every sector’s value chain area, from forest operations to consumer and industrial products.

Around the Grounds at IRG54
The successful companions’ program at IRG 54 was a credit to organisers Sandra Greaves and Ann Kennedy. Here a group of delegates takes the tourist bus for a visit to Kuranda and the rail and cab car ride. Other tourist spots visited through the week of the conference were the Atherton Tableland, Green Island National Park, and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures and Palm.
  • For more information about the conference, visit the International Research Group on Wood Protection’s Linkedin and Facebook pages.


  • Jim Bowden

    Jim Bowden, senior editor and co-publisher of Wood Central. Jim brings 50-plus years’ experience in agriculture and timber journalism. Since he founded Australian Timberman in 1977, he has been devoted to the forest industry – with a passion.


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