International workshop in Ruhnu 18–22 July 2011

The conclusion of Ruhnu workshops


Thank you again for participating in Ruhnu workshops! The results obtained from each of the four workshops were very good. These results will be used in compiling project publications as well as in preparing new courses and workshops. We got new ideas for the successful continuation of our project from both workshops and feedback forms, which participants were surprisingly eager to fill in. Ideas received from Uwe Noldt’s working group were considered by far the best. 

Measurements performed by the first group indicated that data obtained by using non-destructive methods in the evaluation of the residual cross-section and strength of wooden structures are more accurate than the results of visual observation. The condition of wood can best be determined by the simultaneous use of ultrasound and a resistograph. The use of equipment significantly minimizes the factor of subjectivity in the evaluation of the preservation of wooden structures and thus, old and valuable wooden structures can be preserved to a much larger extent. I have appended here a photo of a building on Åland islands depicting a severely damaged wall the structural strength and stability of which has been secured (see photo 1, Åland). I hope that non-destructive methods will also be used in Estonia in order to achieve the same level of preservation of cultural heritages.

The work done by the second group was divided into two parts – the identification of the species of wood-damaging fungi according to the instructions given by specialists from the Estonian Mycology Research Centre Foundation and the testing and supplementing of the source/supporting document on the inspection of biodamage in buildings. The importance of the identification of the species of wood-degrading and wood-disfiguring fungi may be considered the primary result of the first part. This provides us with information on the history of the use of buildings and enables us to plan the activities involved in restoration and renovation. Some fungal species depend heavily on the moisture level of the surrounding environment, whereas others are able to grow on dried-out wood while transporting the moisture necessary for survival through their mycelium. The second part was actively developed, as the majority of the participants in the workshop had recently taken part in the inspection of buildings. It was found that biodamage inspection is an essential part of the evaluation of the condition of the construction technology of buildings and unfortunately, we lack joint perspectives and specific instructions on how to carry out the evaluation in Estonia. Therefore, we are planning to prepare such instructions along with the supporting document by the end of the project. 

The main task of the third group was to introduce the functioning of wood-damaging beetles to specialists in Estonia. As the result of the work done by the group, three aspects emerged, which are the most important when it comes to evaluating beetle damage: first, identification of beetle species based on flight holes, frass and appearance; second, determination of the extent of damage and third, monitoring of beetle damage. In co-operation with Uwe Noldt, we have plans to compile a detailed instruction manual on the identification of the species of wood-damaging beetles and monitoring of beetle damage. The manual will estimably be published in book format in the first half of 2012, which will also include the information on wood-degrading fungi received from the second working group. Hosting the workshop on Ruhnu was especially valuable for the third working group as they had the opportunity of observing beetles in action. By a fortunate chance, we managed to capture two important moments in beetle reproduction, which can be viewed in the educational films currently in progress.

The task of the fourth group was the most difficult due to the lack of experience in Estonia in compiling special heritage conservation conditions on the elimination of biodamage. Nevertheless, the leaders of this group gave their best, so their preliminary work can be considered a step ahead in compiling these special conditions. The most important result of the activities of this working group was the realisation that the special conditions on the elimination of biodamage cannot be compiled according to the existing outline for compiling special conditions; yet, a completely new methodology needs to be developed for this purpose. It also appeared that in addition to cultural historians, biologists, materials scientists and construction engineers need to be involved in the compiling of such special conditions. Future project plans include the forming of a working group the members of which will be the representatives of all above-mentioned fields, so that we could start compiling the conditions already in the second half of this year.

As a whole, the workshop can be considered a success, although all results showed that the surveys and activities in all areas are still in their first stage and there is a lot to develop. The next plans include providing lecture courses at Estonian universities and the Estonian Open Air Museum in the period of 17–21 October, 2011, and conducting a more extensive course cycle for building owners and specialists, which will be hosted this autumn by Ehitusala OÜ, as selected by way of competition. The first book on the identification of wood-damaging fungi and beetles will be published in the beginning of the next year and educational films will be completed in the beginning of the year after that. Follow our homepage at



Mo nday 18th Jul y   
20:30    Arrival to Ruhnu
21:00    Dinner

Tuesday 19th July
07:30 – 09:00    Breakfast
09:00 – 12:00    Discussion with experts, preparings for workshops
12:00 – 13:00    Lunch
13:00 – 17:00    Preparings for workshops
19:00    Dinner

Wednesday    20th July and
Thursday 21st July

07:30 – 09:30    Breakfast
09:00 – 12:30    Workshop in 4 groups
12:30 – 14:00    Lunch
14:00 – 18:00      Workshop in 4 groups
19:00    Dinner

Friday 22nd July
07:30    Departure from Ruhnu
10:00 – 12:00    Summary in Pärnu


Jos Creemers Foreign expert
Uwe Noldt Foreign expert
Guna Noldt Foreign expert
Karl Thomas Nilsson Foreign expert
Valery Kozlov Foreign expert
Margarita Kisternaya Foreign expert
Kalle Pilt Project manager
Piret Meesak Project assistant
Marike Laht Researcher
Joosep Metslang Researcher
Martti Lainurm Specialist
Marko Teder Specialist
Jane Oja Mycologist
Ave Sadam Mycologist
Kristel Pau Coordinator of Estonian Mycology Research Centre Foundation