REF2014 Impact Case Study: Driving innovation in wood protection for the marine environment

Impact: Environmental Impacts

Description of impact

Marine wood borers cause huge economic losses by damaging maritime structures. Research conducted by Cragg’s team has affected local and global decision making and has driven the move from broad-spectrum, environmentally-hazardous wood protection methods towards environmentally-benign approaches tailored to target specific organisms. Novel testing methods have accelerated evaluation of protection methods while reducing testing costs, and evaluations have been used to inform guidelines for selection of timbers for waterside construction issued by the UK Environment Agency.

Who is affected

Environment Agency; International forestry government commissions; commercial timber organisations; heritage organisations.


Degradation of wood by marine wood boring species causes major economic losses world-wide. Research on the biodegradation of wood in the sea has been pursued at Portsmouth for over 40 years. Since 2006, Dr S. Cragg has led a team of Portsmouth-based researchers in this area to develop internationally-recognised expertise in the identification, biology and husbandry of marine wood borers. The research expertise of the Portsmouth team has been used to link laboratory performance data with field assessments, and to predict borer hazard in different areas of the world.
This research has generated international impact:
Impact 1. Acceleration of evaluation of protection methods while reducing testing costs
Impact 2. Evidence of durability backs EA procurement policy
Impact 3. Evaluations have been used to market less well-known timber species
Impact 4. Information on borer hazard changes affects decision-making locally and globally
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactEnvironmental Impacts
Impact levelBenefit (delivered impact)


  • marine wood borers
  • Environment Agency
  • wood protection


  • REF2014