The current Canadian Lumber Properties program was established to support multi-year research on topics judged by the industry to be critical to the safe and viable use of Canadian dimension lumber in structural applications. This program, in combination with the National Lumber Grades Authority’s grading rules and the accredited third party grading agencies form the backbone of the Canadian lumber quality system. This system enables Canadian lumber producers to grade and ship Canadian lumber for use in North American and overseas structural building applications.
When initiated in 2005, the program focussed on five areas. The effort is now focussed on three areas: 1) maintenance of existing lumber design values by means of an ongoing lumber properties monitoring program; 2) working with the US/Canada task group established to guide the development of standard procedures published in ASTM D1990 and used in the establishment of lumber design values; and 3) liaise with university-based research groups to leverage research suitable for addressing longer-term research needs in the area of lumber properties.
One of the planned activities for 2009-10 was the start-up of a trial on-going lumber properties monitoring program. The program, which is a longitudinal survey of lumber produced from mills across Canada, would have been modelled after the Pilot Ongoing Monitoring program that began in 2006 and ended in 2008. Because of the severe downturn in the industry starting in 2008, the proposed 2009-10 program needed to be postponed to accommodate the shortfall in industry funding. There were also concerns with the significant changes in production levels both within and between regions, and the potential disruptions to sampling because of unanticipated mill closures. Available resources were instead directed at establishing how best to respond to practical issues observed during the downturn, such as the closure of a mill that would have or had been providing samples. Following discussions during the year and consideration of possible alternatives, it is recommended that the sampling plan as used in the Pilot program be restarted. Additional details on the augmented mill list to account for mill closures are provided in the recommendations section of this report.
In the other major area of study, University of BC (UBC) and US Forest Products Laboratory (USFPL) statisticians met to discuss and evaluate alternatives to the ASTM D1990 procedures for developing design values for groups of wood species. Although the proposed alternative procedures would address one or more of the statistical anomalies identified in the ASTM D1990 procedure, the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) Lumber Properties Task Group (LPTG) charged with reviewing the potential changes did not see any practical improvements to warrant changes to the procedures but suggested that the effort focus on establishing criteria for species grouping. Because of the potential inter-relationship between the species grouping procedures and other procedures used to assess in-grade lumber properties, it is recommended that efforts be maintained in this area and adjusted as required to respond to the needs of the LPTG.
Lastly, in late 2009, the UBC Dept. of Statistics and the Simon Fraser University Dept. of Statistics and Actuarial Science were awarded a research grant by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada to establish the “Forest Products Stochastic Modeling Group”. FPInnovations is the industrial collaborator on this initiative. Several student projects targeting longer-term lumber properties research needs have been initiated, and a sample of suggested projects is included in the appendix of this report.