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.