Use it or lose it

STTC-congres over duurzaam geproduceerd tropisch hout
De gemeente Rotterdam heeft zich na Amsterdam en Leeuwarden als derde Nederlandse gemeente gecommitteerd aan de European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) om het gebruik van duurzaam geproduceerd tropisch hout te stimuleren. Dit gebeurt met typische Rotterdamse nuchterheid en een opzienbarend inkoopbeleid, zo werd duidelijk tijdens het recentelijk gehouden STTC-congres in de havenstad.

Article: Use it or lose it

Timmer Fabrikant | nr 7/8 | 2016 | jaargang 66

Action, achievement and aspiration at European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition Conference

The European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) Conference in Rotterdam came to resoundingly positive conclusion when the host city itself officially joined the organisation.

The theme of the June event, co-organised with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment (MIE), was ‘Real impact through timber purchasing policies’. It centred on the STTC’s core view that creating market demand for certified responsibly sourced tropical timber is key to incentivizing sustainable forest management in supplier countries.

The STTC launched in 2013 to deliver this message across Europe, where tropical timber sales had been in long-term decline.  Founded and funded by Dutch government-backed IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, it now has 80 members and rising; including timber traders, federations, end-users, specifiers, retailers, local and national government bodies, certification organisations and NGOs. Their initial aim is to boost certified timber’s European tropical market share to 50% over 2013 levels by 2020.

Among the STTC’s latest developments is a €2 million funding programme, managed by Principal Partner the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF), to support businesses, federations and local authorities implementing sustainable timber procurement policies (STPPs).  It is also increasing communications activities, with the Rotterdam Conference among the outcomes.

The event attracted nearly 100 people from across the STTC membership, plus delegates from associated areas.

Opening speaker Hannie Vlug, MIE Sustainability Director, highlighted the impact government and private sector STTPs could have together.

“Governments can lead by example and use procurement policy as leverage, incentivizing companies to bring sustainable products to market,” she said.

The Netherlands’ procurement system, she added, had contributed to a rise in sustainable timber market share from 13.4% in 2005 to 74% in 2013.

IDH Programme Director Hans Stout described his organisation’s leading role in supporting tropical forest certification, but stressed that a viable market for the resulting timber was equally critical. “That’s why the STTC is focused on stimulating demand Europe-wide,” he said.

Researcher and Chatham House Associate Duncan Brack further emphasized the power of government working with industry to shape procurement. “In most developed countries, government buying accounts for 10-12% of GDP, but its impact on wider business procurement can increase that to 20-40%,” he said.

Encouragingly, he added, the number of government STPPs has risen from eight ten years ago to 33 now.

Robert Kaukewitsch, EU Green Public Procurement Officer, said the EU aimed to ‘create an enabling environment’ for industry and governments to establish STPPs, including allowing environmental criteria in tender procedures.   It was also now focused on how STPP’s could accommodate FLEGT licensed timber.

Stephane Glannaz, Chief Commercial Officer of tropical supplier and STTC participant Precious Woods, said that to encourage implementation of STPPs, in turn, the tropical timber sector must highlight the wider values of sustainable forest management. In particular that included linkage with climate change mitigation.

A presentation on the Netherlands’ Green Deal, the country’s public/private sector alliance to further boost certified sustainable timber’s market share via STPPs, was given by Maja Valstar, MIE Sustainable Timber Advisor, and Paul van den Heuvel, Managing Director of the Netherlands Timber Trade Association. Core to its success, said Mr van den Heuvel, was clear messaging on the sustainable timber market’s role in forest maintenance. “We put it simply,” he said. “Use it or lose it.” He added that the project’s various partners were now working on Green Deal II.

Peter Gijsen, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager of global construction giant Royal BAM Group, said his sector was increasingly focused on sustainable materials procurement as it reached the limits in improving environmental performance through building energy efficiency.

The conference also featured lively workshops tackling a range of private and public sector STPP issues; including designing procurement policies, financial instruments for driving sustainable timber markets, STPP’s and contracts and tropical timber’s image.

Concluding ETTF Secretary General André de Boer said there were early signs that efforts to strengthen the sustainable tropical timber market are having an effect.

“But more needs to be done to make it mainstream,” he said. “So we urge more companies and organisations to join the STTC.”

Subsequently the City of Rotterdam marked becoming the latest body to add its name to the Coalition, with Senior Procurement Officer Bill Sahetapy Engel ceremonially signing a section of tropical timber.

“We aim to be the world’s most sustainable port city and see joining the STTC as integral to that,” said Léon Dijk, Sustainable Procurement Specialist at the City Council.

Mr Engel signs up to the STTC on behalf of the City of Rotterdam. Photo: Roel Dijksma, City of Rotterdam

Mr Engel signs up to the STTC on behalf of the City of Rotterdam.
Photo: Roel Dijksma, City of Rotterdam

Other Conference speakers included Eric Boilley, Managing Director of French Federation Le Commerce du Bois; Alberto Romero, Director of Spanish Federation AEIM; Nils Olaf Petersen, Foreign Trade Department Head at the German Federation GD Holz; Ted van den Put, IDH Executive and Programme Director; Mark van Benthem, Probos Senior Consultant and STTC Advisor; Ulrich Bick Thünen Institute procurement and certification specialist; and Peter Defranceschi, local government sustainability organisation ICLEI’s Brussels Office.

For more information: André de Boer,; Mark van Benthem,

Vijftien LCA’s – Kennis van kozijnen

Samen met de leden van de NBvT en de VVNH onderzoekt Monique Fledderman de levenscyclus van houten kozijnen. Dit wordt mede mogelijk gemaakt door de European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (EU STTC). De resultaten zijn veelbelovend.

Article: Vijftien LCA’s – Kennis van kozijnen

Houtwereld | Nr.13/14 | 2016 |

Nachhaltige Holzbeschaffung in den Niederlanden

Welche Regelungen für die öffentliche Beschaffung von nachhaltigem Holz gibt es in den Niederlanden? Es gibt unterschiedliche Regelungen in den Niederlanden: Für den Zentralstaat (staatliche Agenturen) erfüllen Holzprodukte die Kriterien der holländischen Holzbeschaffungspolitik (TPP), wenn sie die niederländischen Holzbeschaffungskriterien des sogenannten ‘Timber Procurement Assessment System (TPAS) ‘ erfüllen. Derzeit erfüllen FSC und PEFC die Kriterien und können in öffentlichen Gebäuden verwendet werden. Darüber hinaus ist es möglich, einen sogenannten Kategorie B-Einzelnachweis vorzulegen. Letzteres wurde in der Praxis bisher nicht eingesetzt. Einige lokale Behörden geben bestimmte Zertifizierungssysteme vor. Hiervon wird jedoch von der Zentralregierung abgeraten.

Article: Nachhaltige Holzbeschaffung in den Niederlanden

Grüne Beschaffung | nr 7 | Mai 2016



Royal Boogaerdt sets sail on ambitious action plan

Royal Boogaerdt Timber’s (RBT) Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition action plan is ambitious. It’s also a precise fit with the latter’s goals and criteria, which is why the company has secured one of the Coalition’s match-funding awards to help implement it.

The aim of the long-established Netherlands importer/processor is multi-faceted; to boost tropical timber’s profile and sales in several key end-user industries; encourage effective implementation of the Dutch government’s sustainable procurement policy, increase certified timber supply and ensure it gets to market in the form the market wants.

To say RBT has experience of the timber sector, and tropical timber sector in particular, is an understatement. It traces its roots back to 1741.

The company has particular expertise and reputation in the shipbuilding and yacht deck sector, hence its launch of a sister company, teak deck producer and fitting specialist Royal Deck, in 2004.

RBT itself sources a wide array of tropical timbers from around the world for the full range of applications, including marine use and general construction. It also supplies North American clears and Accoya modified wood.

The company clearly realises that now more than ever the tropical timber sector has to go the extra mile, not just to ensure that its own sustainable procurement practices are watertight, but that specifiers and end-users appreciate the value of certified responsibly sourced tropical wood and its availability.  That way, as the STTC stresses, sustainable forest practices are incentivised in tropical producer countries, and sustainable timber supplies and the forest are secured long-term.

So RBT joined the STTC and applied for its sustainable procurement Action Plan funding, of which the Coalition has over €1 million to distribute to European companies, federations and local authorities.

Part one of the company’s plan, in association with the Netherlands Timber Trades Association (NTTA), is to raise awareness and drive specification of certified sustainable and legally verified timber in the yacht building sector, a lead consumer of high value tropical wood.

Aiming for its Myanmar teak imports to be 100% certified sustainably sourced, another step in RBT’s project is to have its supply chain from the country independently verified for legality.

The company is also participating in NTTA efforts to raise the profile of sustainably sourced and legally verified timber in the important trailer flooring business, and it’s backing the Association’s campaign to ensure Dutch state agency specification of sustainably sourced tropical timber for public projects is consistently met by contractors.

Finally RBT wants to improve flows to Europe of tropical certified roundwood logs, which many supplier countries have banned from export. On the strict proviso this material is certified, the company believes it could boost European sustainable tropical timber demand as processors still need roundwood for certain applications and to be able to respond quickly to orders.

“Boogaerdt has been pushing to reach 100% sustainability in the import of tropical hardwoods,” said RBT director Cees Boogaerdt. “Now 88% of all wood imports by members of the Netherlands Timber Trade Association is from sustainable sources, but unfortunately the growth of sustainable hardwoods will level off because of the extreme high extra costs for certified wood”

The company has been awarded STTC match funding of €15,000 towards its action plan, investing €35,500 itself. It has already increased imports of sustainably sourced tropical timber from 7,435m3 in 2014 to 8,200m3 in 2015.  The 2016 aim is 9,016m3.

Despite the threat of the price competition between legal and sustainable wood, RBT recognises the potential value of the STTC programme in boosting sustainable tropical timber sales in Europe.

“Most companies are already committed to sourcing only the most possible of either legal or sustainable timber, but the STTC funding and its wider initiatives are an added incentive and support in this area,” said Mr Boogaerdt.


Interholco IFO book – Writer gets under skin of giant Congo FSC forest

In his latest book, Dutch specialist nature conservation and sustainability author and researcher Meindert Brouwer shows how effectively and efficiently managed forest and timber operations can balance the needs of business and the environment.

Brouwer dedicates a whole chapter of his new book, Central African Forests Forever, to the IFO forest concession and timber operations in the Republic of Congo, which, he starts by underlining, are colossal.

“IFO’s concession, forming part of the Congo Basin, covers 1.2 million ha, which is a quarter the size of the home  country of Interholco, IFO’s Swiss parent company ,” he says. “It employs nearly 1100 people and has 16,000 dependents in local communities.”

Brouwer details the felling operation, health and safety procedures in the forest and how trees are selected for natural regeneration. This leads on to use and active promotion of lesser known species, which the company wants to sell more of simultaneously to minimise risk of supply stress on more popular varieties, notably sapele, and to make simultaneously more economic and sustainable use of the same area of forest.

Antoine Couturier, IFO director of environmental and social company polices and certification, discusses the company’s efforts to protect wildlife by funding patrols of government-employed ‘ecoguards’. He also described the FSC process, which made the company’s the biggest single FSC-certified forest concession in Africa.

Social welfare and local engagement are also key, writes Brouwer, with 300 meetings between IFO representatives and local inhabitants annually, and the company investing €130,000 into social and development projects a year.

Ulrich Grauert, director of Interholco AG, tells Brouwer that the company’s parent, Austrian-based international timber giant Danzer, has been dedicated to minimising its environmental impact and supporting local communities since its start in the 1930s.

“Their opinion was that a timber company is responsible for its workers and ecology, that forest management has to be economically successful and ecologically and socially sustainable,” he said. “For us getting FSC certification was a natural thing to do and a good structure to ensure continuity of our company values in the long term.”

Brouwer himself concludes that FSC-certified forest management is a ‘blessing for the Congo Basin’.

“Its standards and principles contribute highly to safeguard forests and biodiversity,” he says. “Moreover it’s a key instrument to reduce poverty and enhance community development.”


Trade agreement on FLEGT pluses and minuses

There has been backing from the EU timber trade for conclusions of an independent report on the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and TRADE (FLEGT) Action Plan, which said improvements were needed in the anti-illegal timber initiative.  But this is balanced by agreement with some of the study’s positive conclusions and its optimistic outlook on FLEGT’s longer-term potential impact.

In terms of room for improvement, the independent Evaluation of the FLEGT Action Plan said support for supplier countries signed up to EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements   should be delivered in a more ‘demand-driven’ way. Bottlenecks   to the delivery of FLEGT-licensed timber from these countries should also be tackled, and more private sector involvement encouraged in FLEGT and EU Timber Regulation implementation.

Improved market communication around FLEGT was also needed and greater   collaboration with other initiatives and partners globally.  It also required still greater political and financial support.

However, the Evaluation authors also concluded that the initiative is “a relevant innovative response to the challenge of illegal logging” and “has led to major improvements in forest governance worldwide”.

They said FLEGT had succeeded in pushing illegal logging up the agenda for industry, government and public.  It had also helped improve forest governance in all targeted countries, including both suppliers signed up to FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) and non-VPA countries. FLEGT’s objective of reducing EU illegal wood imports   was being achieved and FLEGT-licensed timber from FLEGT VPA countries, when it arrives, will have “clear EU added-value through market leverage and increased political weight”.

André de Boer, Secretary General of Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition implementing partner, the European Timber Trade Federation, said the non-arrival of EUTR-exempt FLEGT-licensed timber to date was a key issue for the trade under the initiative.

“FLEGT licensing is an aspect of the Action Plan of paramount interest,” he said. “In that sense the results so far have been disappointing. To the key-evaluation points, we’d also add that the Plan might have been more effective if it had addressed regions or species rather than whole countries.”

However, he added, FLEGT had contributed to raising  European awareness on illegal timber issues and improving education. It had also supported development of producer country legality assurance systems significantly.

“This in turn has been instrumental in helping increasingly bar illegal trade from importing countries,” said Mr de Boer. “This trend can continue to build, but we believe giving greater recognition to third party environmental certification schemes under the FLEGT initiative would make it still more effective.”

STTC on show at Carrefour du Bois

The Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) will have a profile at the Carrefour International du Bois in Nantes (CIB), arguably Europe’s leading exclusively wood trade fair, with a number of STTC supporters exhibiting.

The exhibition, running from June 1-3, is expecting to attract more than 10,000 visitors and 550 exhibitors. At the last count these will include  STTC members and partners Interholco AG of Switzerland, Royal Boogaerdt Timber of the Netherlands, Rougier Sylvaco Panneaux and Rougier Afrique International of France, Vandecasteele of Belgium and French timber trade association, Le Commerce du Bois.

The CIB will give these companies significant international exposure as it   forecasts trends of recent years will continue, with more visitors from abroad in total and from a greater range of countries.

“At the last show in 2014, 22% of visitors came from outside France, and we’re confident of exceeding that this year,” said CIB International Marketing Director Sam Padden.  “And the proportion of exhibitors from abroad will be up as well, to around 35%.”

Ms Padden attributes the growing global popularity of the CIB down to a range of factors. But principal among them is the fact that it is focused on wood and wood products alone.

“That means visitors know they’re going to  have an undiluted timber experience, and exhibitors that they’re going to see existing and potential customers who are interested exclusively in wood,” she said.

The event includes a hall dedicated to use of wood in construction called Techniques & Solutions and also has a conference programme running across all three days.

There will also be a special Expo, ‘Timber in Living Spaces’, focused on wood in building and interiors.

Sustainable procurement funding project gathers pace

Interest in the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition’s (STTC) funding programme is growing among industry Federations, timber companies and local authorities across Europe.

The STTC announced earlier this year that it had over €1 million to allocate for the establishment of sustainable timber procurement policy, code of conduct and project action plans that matched its goals and criteria.

Initially the lion’s share of the funding will go to trade bodies and timber businesses in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain and France. But there is also money available for action plans elsewhere.

“So far we’ve had positive approaches from the timber trade federations of four of the five initial funding target countries,” said André de Boer, Secretary General of STTC Principal Partner the European Timber Trade Federation. “And project proposals from the private and public sectors are building up, which we expect will lead to other projects and participants in the STTC programme.  It’s a very encouraging start to the programme.”

Under the funding initiative, companies and local authorities are eligible for match funding up to €15,000, or 30% of the cost, to implement procurement strategies and other STTC-aligned activities. Federations can receive up to €30,000 to introduce sustainable procurement policies and codes of conduct.

The STTC’s aim, through supporting wider establishment of sustainable procurement policies, programmes and initiatives and through communication, awareness raising and a drive to build its partner and membership base, is to increase EU certified tropical timber sales 50% above 2013 levels by 2020. This, in turn, it maintains, will provide added incentive for the spread of sustainable forest management in tropical supplier countries.

Italians raise public procurement certified threshold

Italy’s timber sector is identifying positives in the country’s new law ruling that at least 50% of wood products procured by government for public projects are certified legal and sustainable, or recycled.

The regulation was passed at the end of 2015 and came into effect earlier this year. Its full title is ‘Environmental Provision to promote green economic measures and contain excessive use of natural resources’.

“It stipulates that all public sector bodies ensure that at least half of tenders for timber and wood products by value meet a range of environmental criteria,” said Stefano Dezzutto, Chief Executive of timber sector federation Fedecomlegno. “And it applies to local as well as central government.”

He added that the new ruling currently covers office and outdoor furniture, construction materials, windows and doors and said Fedecomlegno consulted on the drafting process. “We contributed actively to drawing up the ‘minimum environmental criteria’ for each kind of product,” he said.

The law states that the minimum 50% of wood and wood-based goods must comprise re-used or recovered timber, or include a minimum 70% of material sourced from sustainably managed forest. Proof of origin can include FSC or PEFC certification, these schemes’ recycled wood certificates, or an equivalent, which has to be independent third party verified and ISO-approved.

Fedecomlegno sees the new regulation boosting overall Italian demand for certified sustainable timber, especially wood-based panels used in furniture.

It has also communicated the details to its members so they can be prepared.

“And it’s felt that the topic will be addressed further by legislators in the near future,” said Mr Dezzutto. “Some have forecast that the government procurement threshold on certified legal and sustainable timber will be increased to 100%.”