Civil engineering projects highlight tropical timber performance

Two major new infrastructure projects in the Netherlands demonstrate the technical potential and carbon benefits of tropical timber in marine civil engineering.

In Zeewolde harbour, a series of six giant lock gates have been installed, all in FSC-certified azobé.

In total, the gates comprise 74m3 of timber, with the largest 4m wide and 10m high. They were designed and produced by hardwood specialists Wijma Kampen and assembled in association with Machinefabriek Rusthoven. Despite their size, the first four, precisely machined to size, were installed in just two days. The final two were due to be in place in August.

The second project, completed earlier this year, is a 149m footbridge in the Afferdense, Deeste Waarden area. Planning for the structure, which bridges a side channel, started in 2008 with the aim of opening up new walking routes in the area.

Azobé was once more the timber specified, a total of 75m3, storing 122.6 tons of CO2.  The 100% FSC-certified material was supplied by Boogaerdt Wood.

Both projects are featured  on the website of the Hout in de GWW initiative (, an alliance of 12 timber providers and timber research and market development organisation Centrum Hout.  The aim is to promote use of verified sustainable hardwood in the civil and marine civil engineering sectors.

The campaign targets construction professionals and specifiers such as municipal and regional authorities, and waterway management bodies and supports life cycle analysis and other research and testing to demonstrate the properties of hardwood.

“We believe we’ve put tropical timber, as an environmentally friendly and suitable technical solution, back to ’top of mind’ with professionals and other decision makers in this sector,” said Centrum Hout’s Eric de Munck. “Another spin off is that the Dutch Ministry of Transport and Waterways has started a consultation on the possibilities of using more timber in infrastructure projects to accelerate its progress towards CO2 reduction and climate impact reduction goals. It has also commissioned its own LCA studies to strengthen the business case for wood.”

At the Berlin STTC Conference, Eric de Munck will share more details about the Hout in de GWW initiative.