In recent years, the WPA has transitioned into an independent technical authority specialising in all aspects of industrial wood protection. It is playing an increasingly vital role in providing the support services needed to help the timber supply chain to grow the demand for high durability, added-value products.

To better reflect this role the WPA is about to relaunch its operations with a new brand identity and website. WPA Chief Executive Gordon Ewbank gives Fencing & Landscaping News an insight into the Association’s fresh new image and operations.

New logo and website

The roots of the WPA go back to 1934 and the formation of the British Wood Preserving Association (BWPA). At this time, impregnating wood with copper-based preservatives was an emerging science. The BWPA’s role was to help establish and promote the
new preservatives and processes that would subsequently open new markets for wood, many of which still exist today. This pioneering work is probably how the Association came to be perceived as a ‘preservative manufacturers club’. This is now history and today’s WPA represents a much broader range of membership.

In 2006, the scope of WPA technical capabilities was expanded to include modified wood alongside high and low pressure preservative pre-treatments and flame retardants. The chemicals andprocesses used to turn softwoods into durable construction products face increasing regulatory control and the WPA is well positioned to support the market through thesechallenges. Regulatory affairs expertise and influence with UK statutory bodies like HSE are a core strength of the Association.

The WPA’s heritage is grounded on its technical and regulatory experience and capabilities – and these are still vital to continued success. In recent years though, strategic service and support programmes tailored to the needs of those who manufacture or sell pre-treated and modified wood products have been introduced. These include a major preservative treated softwoods field trial in partnership with BRE; training and educational initiatives as well as quality assurance and product approval schemes. Such programmes are often developed in collaboration with other timber trade associations, here and in Europe. A good example of this is the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed earlier this year with the Timber Trades Federation (TTF), aimed at strengthening the UK market for treated wood.

The WPA of today is more commercially focused and the Association’s board is keen to ensure that work priorities and strategy are closely aligned with those of the timber supply chain. This was a key factor in the decision to relaunch the WPA. The new brand identity and website better represents where the WPA is today and its vision for the future.

The distinctive fresh new logo and vision statement of the WPA Check out the WPA’s exciting new website www.thewpa.org.uk and save it in your favourites – it’s the new ‘go-to’ reference for anyone interested in specifying, buying or using performance enhanced, fit for purpose wood.

WPA Strategic priorities

In early 2018, The WPA & TTF joined forces in an opinion poll of member organisations. The results were very clear. To underpin the continued growth potential of the market for treated wood products, three important issues had to be addressed:

  1. the general failure of buyers to specify treated wood correctly;
  2. improving awareness about how to install and use treated wood correctly and
  3. building confidence in the performance of treated wood through independen verification of treatment quality.

In March 2019 a strategic partnership agreement between TTF & WPA was announced committing the two associations to a unified strategy aimed at tackling the issues identified by the survey. The fruits of this partnership have already started to appear in a series of co-branded new publications and guidance notes about preservative treated wood aimed at buyers and merchants. More resources are in the pipeline.

Progress has also been made on paving the way to a verification policy on treated wood produced or imported into the UK. A pilot programme to assess WPA Benchmark quality scheme procedures for preservative treated construction timber is about to commence. The successful completion of this pilot will mean that TTF will be able to push ahead with its plans to make independent verification of treatment an integral part of its membership policy. Quality schemes for treated wood have operated successfully in all other major treated wood markets for years. In USA, Canada, the Nordic Countries and France for example third-party quality schemes have played a key role in driving sales growth. WPA believes the same will happen in the UK and is making plans to widen the resources of its third-party quality scheme, the WPA BenchmarkTM as a key priority.


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