ADACH to develop methods for eradicating termites in historic buildings

An environmentally-friendly solution

ABU DHABI - The Conservation Department of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage is developing a research program to address termite infestation which is a condition plaguing much of the vernacular architecture of the Gulf region and worldwide. The objective will also be to produce a handbook providing the appropriate methods and techniques to eradicate termite infestation.
The historic buildings in Abu Dhabi have many wooden elements such as doors, windows, and roof beams, made of wood species such as palm, mangrove, and sandal. These elements are important and rare because wood (other than palm) had to be imported from afar. Termite infestation is a major concern for the preservation of these elements.
The degree of infestation is a function of site environment, the type of wood substrate and size of the nests and their location with regards to the building. Because of the hot climate in Abu Dhabi, the extent of the damage has been found to be quite severe in many cases. Not only can termite nests be unsightly to the appearance of the building, but the burrowing nature of these insects can affect the structural integrity of the infested elements, with the risk of losing original and historical fabric.
At Jahili Mosque, Mowaiji Fort and Mohammed Bin Khalifah House in Al Ain, the termite issue was prevalent.
ADACH assessed the extent of the infestation and degree of damage, identified termite and wood species through chemical analysis, and proposed solutions that were compatible with ADACH’s conservation aims and methodology.
An environmentally-friendly solution is an important criterion; therefore a range of solutions were tested from chemical treatments through trenching and pesticide injection to non-invasive solutions such as laying baiting systems throughout the building. In all cases, a monitoring regime was put into place to measure the effectiveness of the implemented method.