Netherlands leads in sustainably sourced market share

Source Mark van Benthem, Probos

According to independent research, certified sustainably sourced material holds a higher share of the timber market in the Netherlands than anywhere else in the world.

That’s one dramatic statement from the latest report of the Dutch market by non-profit forest products and sustainability institute Probos.

The detailed publication, covering the range of forest products and Probos’s fifth Netherlands report, also highlights the rapidity of the rise in sales of sustainably sourced products.

In 2005, they accounted for just 13.3% of Dutch sawn goods and wood-based panels sales and 0.5% of the paper and paperboard market. In 2015, the year up to which the report covers, those figures were 83.3% and 65.4% respectively. By volume, that translates into a rise in sustainably sourced lumber and panels of 3.6 million m3 RWE in a decade.

The study’s definition of sustainably sourced is demonstrating compliance with Dutch government procurement policy sustainability criteria. This comprises timber certified under FSC and PEFC schemes, but also, for the first time in 2015, the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS), which is also now accepted by the Dutch authorities as demonstrable proof of sustainability.

Of sawn timber types, softwood boasts the highest sustainably sourced share at  85.4%, with tropical next at 63.3%.  Temperate hardwood lags at 33.7%, which is attributed to the market volumes of uncertified packaging material, but it saw the biggest rise in share since 2013. Highest sustainably sourced share of all goes to wood-based panels at 88.2%.

Despite the progress made, however, Probos says the Netherlands still has someway to go to achieve 100% sustainable sourcing, with some sources of supply more problematic than others. It also highlights that, while sustainably sourced tropical timber’s market share may have risen, the total size of the Dutch tropical market has shrunk dramatically, from 730,000 m3 RWE to 400,000 between 2005 and 2015.

“Hence, Dutch influence in encouraging suppliers to adopt sustainable forest management policies has been strongly reduced, giving even more cause for international cooperation to make timber flows world-wide more sustainable, such as via the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC),” states Mark van Benthem of Probos.

The next Netherlands report, covering 2017 is planned for next year. A study of the Belgian market covering 2016 is also underway.

A more detailed article on the study is available here and the full report can be downloaded here (Dutch only).