The International Research Group on Wood Protection (known until 10 June 2004 as The International Research Group on Wood Preservation) (IRG) was launched as an independent research group in January 1969 to continue the work of previous group of experts on wood protection that had been set up, following an Austrian proposal in 1965, by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in Paris, France.
The IRG was inaugurated on the 25 June 1969 in Cambridge in the United Kingdom and for the first ten years of its existence its Secretariat was held by the United Kingdom at the Forest Products Research Laboratory (which in 1972 became the Princes Risborough Laboratory of the Building Research Establishment).
On the 1 January 1979 the Group's administrative Secretariat was moved to Sweden, where with the help of the Swedish Wood Preservation Institute it was supported by a research project from the Swedish National Board for Technical Development (STU) until 30 June 1985. Since then it is self financing, relying entirely on the support of its Members and Sponsors. The continued operation of the Secretariat in Sweden has been confirmed until the end of 2015.
At the time of the Group's inception it was emphasized that wood-based products are important materials in many countries, and that their loss or deterioration is economically serious. Consequently protection against biodeterioration is indispensable if these materials are to be used economically and effectively. A new and even more important aspect of the technology is the role in conserving the world's forest resources. Wood is one of man's only naturally renewable resources. More extensive use of the technology of wood protection and improvements in that technology can play a highly significant role in conserving forest resources.
Initially the IRG was composed of 22 scientists from nine countries, Austria, Belgium, France, the German Federal Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Today the IRG has more than 350 members from 51 countries around the world.