Forestry Commission. Paper abstract bibtex
Preface: Research into the wood properties and performance of products made from Sitka spruce has been undertaken in Great Britain for almost 90 years by a number of organisations, most notably the Forestry Commission, Forest Products Research Laboratory (FPRL), Building Research Establishment (BRE), Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA), Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Wales Bangor, and University of Aberdeen. Smaller research groups were also based at Abertay University and Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College. Most recently, research groups at Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with Forest Research, have investigated the wood properties of Sitka spruce as part of the Strategic Integrated Research in Timber (SIRT) project. One issue that arises from this diversity of research groups is the corresponding diversity of outputs, both published and unpublished, which presents two challenges. Firstly, simply finding and collating all the research that has been carried out is no trivial task. Secondly, only when the material is brought together and synthesised do the links between tree growth and management, cell wall structure, wood chemistry, timber processing and end-product performance become truly apparent. This is not the first publication to have attempted to bring together knowledge about the properties and uses of Sitka spruce. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the former FPRL produced a series of publications on the properties and uses of different conifer species grown in Great Britain, including Sitka spruce. These were collated together and updated in Forestry Commission Bulletin 77, which was published in 1988. Since then there have been many significant changes in the forest products sector including a very large increase in the volume of wood harvested from British forests, significant investment in sawmilling infrastructure, rapid growth in the timber-frame house market, development of common European standards for assessing the properties and performance of wood products, and the creation of a biomass energy sector in response to concerns about the impact of using fossil fuels for energy production. During the same period our knowledge of wood properties of Sitka spruce has improved, along with the technology to measure these properties in both laboratory and industrial environments. These changes and advances are incorporated in this publication. This publication is written for forest scientists, engineers, wood processors, and end users of wood products who are seeking a better understanding of Sitka spruce's material properties and potential end uses. Clearly, this is a diverse potential readership and there is the risk that the publication is too technical for some and too applied for others. I hope that this is not the case and have tried to overcome this by dividing the publication into three parts. The first part is a general introduction that covers the origins of Sitka spruce, its introduction into Great Britain and its growth and management in this country. Part two contains information on the wood properties of Sitka spruce, including wood anatomy, general wood structure, and physical and mechanical properties. Part three contains an overview of the end products that are currently produced from Sitka spruce or that could potentially (and realistically) be produced from Sitka spruce in the future.