FSC certification hardwood for a better world

Temporary and incidental uncertified hardwood in our chain

Van den Berg Hardhout is a stock-keeping importer of tropical hardwood for a better world. With our trade we want to make a positive contribution in both the countries of origin and in the places where our wood is used.

We only buy wood from FSC® certified sawmills as well as from sawmills that are working to obtain this certificate. For this, we offer them pre-financing during the transition period when they do have costs but hardly any revenue. So, although uncertified wood is only a very small part, it sometimes occurs in our distribution chain (2016: 1.6% | 2017: 0.1% | 2018: 0.0% | 2019: 0.0% 2020: 0.2% 2021-Q1: 0.5%).

FSC certification is not always easy

Changes to the FSC® rules are determined every few years in the FSC® General Assembly. In 2014 a motion was passed whereby companies are not allowed to work in the part of their forest area if this forest has never been felled. Such forests are also known as Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL).

We are in favour of the idea behind the rule (protecting the most valuable forest areas), but against the current regulations. It has mainly created uncertainty and a step backwards for responsible forest management. If the rules become too strict but companies lack demand, they will stop with certification (and they thus no longer have to comply with the other FSC® rules, for example about working conditions). Responsible forest management remains a voluntary choice.

In reality, we often see that it’s better to protect a forest by being actively present and harvesting in a controlled manner (as FSC® enforces certification) than by staying away. Staying away from forest areas as sustainable forester does (unfortunately) not lead to nobody coming to cut some trees. Looking away from this reality certainly does not help the forest.

IFL: Ambiguity and Consequences

In practice, living up to the IFL motion also proves to be very difficult. This is caused by the fact there are several definitions of “Intact Forest Landscape” and because many timber companies have to reduce their yield from the concessions (for which they pay 100%). This in turn jeopardizes their revenue model. This sometimes occurs even when they have been harvesting in accordance with the FSC® rules for years.

One of our suppliers is also affected by this. They stopped the FSC® certification because their management at the time thought it was better. In return, we stopped buying wood from them. Ultimately, this led them to reconsider their decision and wanting to recertify for FSC® again. But due to these IFL FSC® regulations, they have thus far not regained their certificate.

Recertification: working together

Together with companies, FSC® Netherlands and FSC® International, we are now working on possibilities for recertification. This year (October 2021) will see another General Assembly, where it will be decided whether this motion will be amended. Depending on the outcome, we will continue to press for recertification with this supplier, jointly seek a middle ground between legal and FSC® certified forestry or each go our own way. In this case, we will have to part ways.

Until then, this is a supplier of uncertified wood supported by our company. As we promote (and will continue to do so) that we only import FSC® certified wood, we think it is appropriate to provide you with extensive information.

Curious about our range of FSC® certified hardwood? Have a look here!

Van den Berg Hardwood. Hardwood for a better world

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