Incoming Chair, Dr Graham Ormondroyd, Addresses the Annual Review Meeting

The Wood Technology Society
20 Dec 2018
Incoming WTS Chair

It is with great pleasure that I take over as chair of the Wood Technology Society. I joined the Institute of Wood Science in 2002 and joined the board the year that the Institute became part of IOM3 and changed its name to the Wood Technology Society. I suspect that Andy Pitman had something to do with this and I never let him forget it. Someone else I will never forgive, sorry I mean forget, is Andrew True and the faithful day in December 2012 when he bribed me with a coffee (not not even a beer) to join the succession plan that has led to today.

But I have to say I do not think that there has been a better time to take over the chair of the Wood Technology Society. Climate change has been a real issue and one of public concern, from Kyoto to the Paris agreement, COP 24 and the latest IPCC report the challenge of keeping global warming below 1.5C and the decarbonisation of our economy seems to be in our daily popular press.

Timber has a massive role to play in the world addressing the challenges ahead and, thankfully, the UK government have acknowledged this, with the ‘clean growth strategy’, the latest committee on climate change review of the use of timber for construction and numerous other reports all pushing for the increase use of timber and specifically UK timber in the construction sector. But this will present the industry with challenges, our timber resource is finite and there is already a competition for the raw material, the timber may not be fit for purpose and the importing of timber will come under scrutiny as to the carbon cost of importing.

It is imperative at this time of a potential renaissance in the use of timber that our industry understands the products that it is promoting, the environment that we are selling into and the new markets that are being presented to us. No longer can the we, as we has done in the recent past, rely on imported knowledge from Europe and further afield to inform the use of timber here in the UK, there is certainly a lot of knowledge to be gained from aboard but it is not just simply a case of importing this know-how, but having the ability to translate this into products systems and services that are applicable to the UK.

As I pondered the next 3 years and my time as Chair, I began by looking back at recent Chairs and the roles that they have played, all significant in the development of the WTS. Whether this has been seeing through the merger with IOM3, embedding us within the Institute, developing the Timber and Panel Products course or increasing the awareness of the WTS outside of these four walls, I wondered what my contribution could be? This led me to the website and the first paragraph… Our purpose is to advance and encourage the scientific, technical, practical and general knowledge of timber and wood-based materials. Do we do this? Well yes indeed we do and John has already mentioned some of the highlights of last year, our regular slot in the Timber Trades Journal, the ever-developing website, our academic journal, International Wood Products Journal and of course Timber 2018. But in the next 3 years it is my intention to deliver well beyond where we are today, but always with our purpose in mind. 

I see the continuing development of our contribution to the trade’s journals and popular press, and of course the website will continue to be a resource and a first point of call for information on timber and timber products, The Conference will be back next year, in the guise of Timber 2019 and IWPJ will continue to develop as a high quality journal to publish in. However, we can go beyond this, I will work with Ian Bowbrick and PIABC to develop the education side of the Society, what can we offer that is unique and will attract ‘bums on seats’. I want to see a series of seminars on topical subjects held, not only in London but across the UK. Where are the hot spots to hold these and who do we partner with to develop these seminars? Is there a need for a CPD seminar series? I want to explore this possibility and more broadly redevelop an appetite for science and technology in the UK timber industry.

Of course, I will not be able to do this alone, we are part of a bigger machine, IOM3, which in itself is going through change but which I will continue the work that John has done to integrate us with IOM3 and give us the ability to take advantage of the support that they have to offer. The timber industry has many representative bodies and I will work with the CTI and others to see where the WTS fits in and how we can provide scientific and technical support to these bodies. 

The board of the WTS, what can I say, we are lucky to have a great mix of people, from industry and consultancies through to academia, from dare I say, old hands, who are still happy to guide us, through to new energetic members of the board who will be able to help put the plans in to action. I am fortunate to have all of these people to support the continuing development of Wood Technology Society and that they all have the same goals, not just for the society but also for the timber industry in general.

However most importantly we have our members, both individual and Industry affiliates, it is these people that we are here to serve and it is these people that we need to engage with and deliver a service that they both want and need, at the end of my three years I would hope that no one could ask the question ‘what has the WTS ever done for us!’.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am hoping for an exciting three years ahead and I am looking forward to working with you all to continue the success of the Wood Technology Society.