The Commission has approved the financing of a collaborative research project to provide the timber industry with a healthier and more efficient wood treatment process against biological degrading agents. Funded under the Cooperative Research (CRAFT) programme of the EU's horizontal research activities involving small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the SURFASAM project aims to develop a non-toxic 'green' treatment to protect wood in the highest category of risk from biological degradation. According to the European Committee for Standards and Norms (CEN), risk 4 class of woods are items of wood or board that are in contact with the ground or with fresh water, and exposed to humidity that is constantly greater than 20 per cent. Typical items in this class include posts, pillars, stake fencing, mooring posts, railway sleepers and wooden handrails. Under the CRAFT scheme, a grouping of six SME business associations from the timber sector have appointed two technical research and development (R&D) 'performers' to carry out the research. These performers will develop a wood treatment and protection product that doesn't contain biocides, unlike current treatments, which in turn will be adopted and used by SMEs. According to the SURFASAM consortium: 'The development of SURFASAM will, moreover, enable the use of a new scientific basis for controlling European Directives and for reducing chemical compounds which are toxic to humans, animals and for the environment.'