Survey of conditioning treatment practices in India
M C Tewari
India has 75.3 million hectares (ie about 24% of total land area) under forests out of which the area of productive forests, from which industrial wood is available, is about 60 million ha. The Task Force on Forest Resources Survey has tentatively estimated that the total growing stock in Indian Forests is 24,000 million cubic metres (m³). The total recorded production of wood in the country is roughly estimated as 25 million m³ annually of which approximately 10 million m³ is demanded by various industries and the remaining is used as fuel. India, with developing economy needs very large resources of timbers for diverse purposes. There is already shortage of timber in the country for various wood based industries and it is expected this will progressively increase with the rapid pace of industrialisation. However, suitable measures are being taken to bridge the gap between demand and supply. The entire 10 m³ of industrial wood requires some sort of protection against wood-destroying agencies. Timber awaiting conversion during storage needs prophylactic treatment while for use as poles, fence posts, sleepers, building material, in cooling towers, boats, ships, in mines, in sea-water, etc., timber should be adequately treated with suitable wood preservatives to obtain satisfactory service life. Both heart and sapwood of non-durable species and only sapwood of durable species need protection against wood-destroying agencies. Wood Preservation on scientific and modern lines was introduced in India by Sir Ralph Pearson of the Indian Forest Service in the year 1908. In India, the first wood preservation plant was established at Bally in Howrah in 1854. Of the total timber extracted in India, only a very small proportion, estimated at about 5% is treated. This amounts to 0.45-0.50 million m³ of wood per annum. The total annual capacity of 140 preservation units, existing in the country at present, is estimated at 0.43 million m³ on single shift basis. IS: 401-1967 (Indian Standard - Code of Practice for Preservation of Timber) covers types of preservatives, their brief descriptions, methods of treatment, and the type and choice of treatment for different species of timber for a number of uses. This standard includes only such preservatives and methods of treatment which have given satisfactory results under Indian condition of service. According to this standard, whatever process of treatment is adopted, timber for treatment should be sound and should be dried to an appropriate moisture content (generally not more than 15% for open tank and 25% for pressure processes). All the wood working etc should be done prior to treatment. In case of timbers, specially some conifers having non-durable heartwood which is refractory to treatment, when treating thick members like railway sleepers, beams, piles, etc, incision of all the surfaces, other than the ends, to a depth of 12-20 mm is necessary.