Tree and timber institute (IVALSA)


The staff of the Trees and Timber Institute (IVALSA) comprises over 75 people, divided between the branches in Florence, Trento, Catania and Grosseto. The research activities cover wood technology, technological development of wood and wood-based products, innovative timber building techniques, dendrochronology and preservation of cultural heritage, protection and valorisation of forests, assistance for companies, education and documentation services.

The laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art testing machinery and offer consultancy and certification services. IVALSA collaborates with many universities for the preparation of master and doctoral theses, and participates in many national and European research projects. Moreover, IVALSA takes part in standardisation activities for the entire area of wood and forests on both the national and European level. IVALSA is a meeting place for scientific and technical exchanges; the natural reference point for the wood sector and for whoever is dealing with wood as a specialist, researcher, designer or building contractor.

The laboratories at IVALSA form an internationally renowned research centre. They are equipped
with state-of-the-art instruments and perform consulting and certification activities.
The main facilities comply with the provisions of UNI CEI EN ISO/IEC 17025 on "quality assurance
management of testing laboratories". IVALSA has acquired the status of notified body and can
perform initial type testing for the following product families: "windows and pedestrian doorsets"
(UNI EN 14351-1), "curtain walling" (UN EN 13830) and "glued laminated timber structures" (UNI EN
- Laboratory of wood chemistry and wood products
- Laboratory of histo-anatomy and microscopy
- Physical and mechanical laboratory
- Laboratory of in vitro technologies and cryopreservation
- Preservation and biodegradation laboratory
- Laboratory of xylogenesis
- Laboratory of in vitro propagation
- Laboratory of forest mechanisation and biomass supply
- Laboratory of anatomical characterisation of wood
- Laboratory of pomology
- Laboratory of wood quality and non-destructive testing
- Windows and curtain walls laboratory
- Fire laboratories
- Laboratory of wood drying
- Mechanical testing laboratory
- Laboratory of dendrochronology.

The "Santa Paolina" experimental farm in Follonica is a centre for plant biodiversity conservation and supports the research activities of IVALSA. Since 1966, the farm has hosted large cultivar collections of pear, peach, olive, persimmon, apple and quince trees. Since its foundation, the farm operates as a centre of research, providing support and professional information for private and public companies of the agro-food chain in cooperation with agricultural associations, public institutions and administrations. Studies and research projects for agricultural development and environmental conservation are carried out in Santa Paolina. The farm is a centre for testing and spreading of technological innovation, in-field demonstration and professional teaching. The facilities of the farm are used by private companies to test new plant protection products and fertilizers as well as new machineries. Santa Paolina is an authorised plant nursery producing Conformitas Agraria Communitatis (CAC) fruit trees, it is also recognised as one of the few Italian pre multiplication centres for the production of virus-free certified olive propagation material.

The library currently consists of approximately 25.000 documents (books, manuals, conference proceedings and multimedia) and 100 regular journals. It is possible to consult approximately 3000 electronic journals and databases on CD-ROM. The purpose of the library is not only to acquire and preserve wide and up-to-date scientific documentation, but also to promote and disseminate information and to encourage interest in the wood-forest sector.

The IVALSA xylotheque collects a variety of wood samples coming from all over the world. Each wood specimen is accompanied by a complete identification and characterisation form including a list of both scientific and vernacular names. Thin sections for microscopy and other anatomical preparations are also available. All the information for the identification of wood species is managed through a digital database. The collection presently counts about 10.000 wood samples related to 5.700 different botanical species. Prepared thin sections, sliced along the three main anatomical directions for microscopic wood identification analyses, are available for about 4.000 wood species.