The South African Wood Preservers Association (SAWPA) is a non-profit association formed in 1980, by the South African wood preserving industry, primarily to promote timber treatment and treated timber products. Commercially grown timber in Southern Africa is mainly of the Eucalyptus and Pinus species, both of which are not durable. By applying the correct chemicals to these timbers we are able to ensure that the timber performs as if it were durable thereby giving predictable long life performance.
With different regions in the country experiencing different wood preservation problems, and the need to address these problems on a regional basis, SAWPA formed Regional Committee's in the following areas:
Southern / Eastern Cape
Gauteng / North West
These Committees are designed specifically for confidential debate amongst timber treaters and traders in treated timber. The Committees meet as often as necessary, and are free to invite other speciality organisations to attend their meetings.
As we meet the needs for our treaters by having Regional Committees, so to we have established a Chemical Forum for the needs of the chemical manufacturers/distributors of chemicals used in wood preservation. The organisations which are currently represented are:
Arcelor Mittal Coke and Chemicals
Arch Wood Protection (Lonza)
Dolphin Bay Chemicals
International Chemical Specialities
The Association is controlled through an Executive Committee, comprising a Chairman, Executive Director, 6 Regional Committee Chairmen and 2 Chemical Manufacturers Forum representatives.
The Association is funded by treaters paying a percentage on purchases of chemicals. Class I Membership is limited to those organisations which treat timber or distribute chemicals. Class II Membership is available to those involved in the treatment industry e.g. users of treated timber.
We have Affiliate Membership for Universities, Educational Facilities, other Associations and bodies such as the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards), the Department of Agriculture, ESKOM (Electricity Supply Commission) and TELKOM (Tele-communications); all who have a vested interest in the treatment industry. Honorary membership is given to those individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the treatment industry. To date, four honorary members have been appointed.
A fundamental reason for SAWPA's existence is the requirement for the promotion of Timber Treatment and Treated Timber Products. This is being achieved through advertising, editorials, presentations etc. We have a mailing list of some 4000 addresses of organisations to whom we are promoting our member's products and services i.e. architects, building inspectors, landscape architects, co-ops, town planners, quantity surveyors. In addition to promoting the products and services which our members offer, we are now being called on to promote the standards in respect of which our members' products and services are offered. We are actively involved in changes to standards and legislation.
In terms of objectives, SAWPA is required to be a 'source of information for both the customer as well as our members.' Members receive a regular newsletter which alerts them to developments in the treating industry. We are members of the International Research Group on Wood Preservation, the American Wood-Preservers' Association, the British Wood Preservers and Damp-proofing Association, the Southern Timber Treaters Group Inc. (Australia), and the Queensland Timber Board. Members also have valuable connections overseas.
When required, SAWPA expands its area of influence into other Southern African countries for the benefit of our members, from the point of view of standards, exports and purchases of raw material.
SAWPA has evolved as the facilitator to the industry. We have become the link between our members and the regulating authorities. We disseminate information, communicate with members, identify and try to overcome problems for the industry - generally do whatever it takes to make things as easy as possible for the common good of all our members. This is a role which members require us to continue. An example of one of the projects we have completed was motivated in order to reduce the impact of wood treatment on the environment.
The South African Wood Preservation Association (SAWPA) developed practical guidelines for safer practices in industrial wood preservation. The aim of the guide is to help reduce the exposure of workers to dangerous chemicals and to reduce or prevent the release of pollutants to the environment. Wood preservation, or as it is also known the treatment of timber, in South Africa is controlled under specific SABS specifications. This control is laid down by legislation which states that if timber is treated, it is to be properly treated in terms of an SABS specification.
There are specifications in place for the actual treatment process, the treatment chemicals and the finished product. Specifications are arrived at after consensus between the SABS and the timber preservation industry. This Association has become the spokes medium for the industry and as a result has become the facilitator of the timber preservation industry.