The Academy Governing Bodies, consisting of the Executive Committee and the Academy Board, shall be empowered to set policies for the Academy and to assume overall responsibility for the management of the affairs of the Academy.

Formation of IAWS

- based on a text written by Fellow Anders Björkman, abstract version prepared by Fellow Roberta Farrell

Development and establishment of the International Academy of Wood Science (IAWS) involved many people, notably Professor Franz Kollmann of Wood Research and Technology at the University of Munich, Germany. Kollmann presented his views about a wood academy in 1963 to a group of highly qualified researchers (Ackerman, Antoine, Bosshard, Chardin, Collardet, de la Cruz, Ellwood, Harper, Locke, Narayanamurti, Thunell, Ylinen), prepared a draft Constitution and contacted Springer-Verlag about a new journal. Subsequently, Kollmann undertook a lengthy study tour, starting in Seattle (WA, USA) holding discussions with Deans McCarthy and Bethel; to Madison (WI, USA) to meet Dr.Locke (Forest Products Laboratory), followed by a visit to Syracuse (NY, USA) to meet Deans Shirley and Jahn and Professors Pentoney and Côté. Finally, he went to New York, USA and met with colleagues Dickinson, Stamm and Wangaard together with representatives from American Wood Industries. All these people expressed their support for the formation of an Academy. The Declaration of Intent, explaining the circumstances leading to formation of IAWS, was signed by Dr. Harper (US Forest Service), Dean Shirley and Mr.Hunt (Madison, WI, USA).

Professor Edgar Mörath (Director of the Austrian Wood Research Institute) became involved in the formation of IAWS. The favourable impression gained from the initial discussions in the USA, Germany and Canada led to a decision to establish the Academy during the first half of 1965. The creation of a Quarterly Review by Springer-Verlag would be realised by the publishing company at their own risk. It was also decided that the Academy would not maintain its own wood research institutes.

What later became the IAWS Permanent Secretariat was established January 1st, 1966, at the Austrian Wood Research Institute in Vienna, a location with several advantages including facilitation of future communications with the Eastern Countries. The yearly expenditure for the activities of a Permanent Secretariat were estimated to be ~ USD 25000. A Board of Advisors formed a core of IAWS, which initially included Professor J. Kisser (President of Austrian Society for Wood Research), Collardet (Paris), Dadswell (Melbourne), Narayanamurti (Bangalore) and Ylinen (Helsinki).

The principles and reasons for the formation of IAWS were published in the 1965/2 News Bulletin of the International Association of Wood Anatomists, as follows:

  • Maintenance of forests, including such things as the yield of forest products;
  • Protection of watersheds and the atmosphere;
  • Taking into consideration a (slowly) rising consumption of wood, production of new types of wood-based materials; and
  • Cooperation of biologists, physicists, chemists, mathematicians and technologists to establish a platform for scientific discussions, publications and statements, and attraction of gifted researchers and technologists, including the academic youth.

The tasks of IAWS were to

  • Promote high level wood research and technology;
  • Present wood research and science at international/national meetings of its own and of other organizations;
  • Focus attention on the importance of wood research and science to governments, parliaments, industries, associations, press etc.;
  • Promote the publication of research of IAWS members in the Quarterly Review.

At the formation, the number of ordinary members was decided to be limited to 100. The officials were President, V. President, Secretary, Treasurer, Board of Advisors (BoA) to consist of 12 members. With Ex officio members in BoA are the Chairman of IUFRO, Section 41, and a Representative of FAO (Forest and Forest Products Division).

The financial basis was to be created by a Circle of Sponsors and Friends (Forest Services, private forest administrations, wood-consuming industries and other industries, related to wood, like pulp and paper producers).

IAWS established 3 discipline classes (biological-anatomical, chemical, and physical-technological), and 3 regional working groups (Europe-Africa, Pan-America, Asiatic-Pacific).

Leading personalities around the world were invited to endorse the creation of IAWS by signing a declaration:

For the highly industrialized atomic world of today, and even more for that of tomorrow, the forests of the Earth must be preserved under all circumstances. This goal can be reached and secured only by balanced production and consumption of wood. Thorough investigations and analyses of trends during the last decade have proved that the total annual consumption of wood is increasing everywhere. We need, therefore, the highest possible efficiency in utilization and improvement of wood and wood-based products. Only a highly scientific treatment of all related problems can accomplish this goal.

Wood is so complex a material that many branches of science are involved in research on it. Research on wood and forest products has generally been carried out for more than 50 years at many famous laboratories. International cooperation in this field already exists to some extent. Missing is still an academy-like organization as described in the attached constitution. The founding of an International Academy for Wood Science could doubtless instigate further scientific progress and stimulate world-wide cooperation in its field. The undersigned therefore welcome and support the founding of this Academy.

Already in the early correspondence (1963), the elaboration of a Constitution for IAWS was mentioned and the Constitution has been modified subsequently several times.

As indicated, the finance of IAWS would be based on subscriptions, which were expected to come from Circles (Unions) of Sponsors and Friends. Two Unions had been formed in advance: A Union in Germany for promotion of IAWS from June 24, 1965, and the Union in Austria of Promoters and Friends from February 23, 1966.

Professor B. Steenberg (Sweden) indicated that the formation of IAWS aimed particularly at helping the physical-technological class within wood research to develop and improve its condition. This intention is not specified clearly in the archive material but it is interesting to note that many letters of invitation were directed to companies within this area.

Enlargement of the Academy domains was considered particularly exploration of great wood dimensions. Two problems were set forth:

  1. In which fields can wooden constructional elements be maintained?
  2. How to modernize wooden elements to secure the proper role of wood in light modern constructions.

The second problem required several research and technical investigation themes, such as techno-mechanical research on fabrication (profiling, lamination, glueing), impregnation against biological attacks, fire protection, and swelling deformation, all involving new methods.

Letters of appreciation for formation of IAWS were sent from the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and other Austrian Government Offices to Professor Kisser as chairman of the Board of Advisors. A letter of May 24, 1966, from Bundesminister Schleinzer should be mentioned, which stresses the importance of wood and expresses his gratification about the plans to locate IAWS in Austria.

Objections had been made against the use of the word “Academy”. Thorough appraisal of the matter proved that this criticism was in error.

On May 2nd 1966, Professors F. Kollmann and J. Kisser sent an invitation to participate in the inauguration ceremony to be held at the Centre Technique du Bois in Paris on June 2, 1966. The site of the inauguration in Paris enabled it to be attached to an IUFRO Meeting, visited by many scientists. Twelve scientists and the Austrian Ambassador in Paris, represented by Mr. T. Ogrinz, attended.

Based on proposals the following officers were elected during the inauguration:

  • President: Professor Franz Kollmann (Germany)
  • Vice President: Professor Fred E. Dickinson (USA)
  • Secretary-General/Treasurer: Professor Edgar Mörath (Austria)
  • Controller (auditor): Professor Karl Kratzl (Austria)


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