FORE327-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

Wood Science

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 July 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 1 August 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 1 October 2021


A key management objective of forestry is the production of wood. The course provides the student with an understanding of the chemical and biological basis of the material properties of wood, how forestry can control these and the concept of wood quality. In the second part the course we will introduce the students to the various wood processing industries, ranging from sawmilling over engineered wood products to pulping and biofuels. Reference will be made to the most suitable resource for individual products and how forest management can impact on the value of the timber.

Wood is unique in its material properties when compared to competing materials like steel, plastics or concrete. The difference is caused by its highly complex molecular and supra-molecular structure.

The first part of the course focuses on  the chemical, biological and physical phenomena encountered when trying to understand the behavior of wood as a material. Starting on the molecular scale, the chemical composition and ultrastructure of the woody cell wall will be explored followed by the biological processes responsible for the unique anatomy of wood from individual species. The chemical and biological aspects are essential to understanding the physical properties of wood such as strength and stiffness, as well as the interaction of wood with water. Finally, wood quality under the above-mentioned premises is considered and implications for silviculture and forest management are discussed.

The second part looks at the processing of wood, starting with the breakdown of logs in sawmills into solid wood products and involved processes; drying and preservation. These operations are highly complex and vary greatly with the available timber resource. A large portion of the wood resource is broken down into smaller particles of various size and shape and reconstituted into products like wood panels or LVL beams. Another sector using large quantities of wood as raw material is the paper industry. The relevant processes and products are discussed, and the advantages and disadvantages for processing wood in a particular way are explained. A final point are the possibilities of using wood as an energy source and the different technologies for converting the solid fuelwood into liquid or gaseous fuels.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will:

  • Know the biological and chemical processes giving rise to the physical properties of wood
  • Understand the advantages and limitations of wood as a material;
  • Understand the key factors influencing wood properties;
  • Be aware of the challenges and opportunities caused by the enormous variability of wood properties;
  • Relate wood properties to the wood quality required by the wood processing industries;
  • Have knowledge about the manufacturing processes and structure of the wood processing industry;
  • Have practical experience in assessing wood properties; and
  • Be able to present scientific and technical topics in seminar and written formats.


ENFO327, FORE327 prior to 2011


Clemens Altaner


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Lab Report 5%
Written Report 10%
Mid-Semester Test 25%
Lab Exercises 15% Three exercises - 5% each
Oral Presentation 10%
End-of-Year Exam 35%

Textbooks / Resources

Additional Reference materials are available on the course Learn web page


Stout footwear is essential for industrial visits and work in laboratories.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,971.00

International fee $9,875.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Forestry .

All FORE327 Occurrences

  • FORE327-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021