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A clear certified vision

Vandecasteele Houtimport are one of the leading European timber importers and have ambitious aims to trade only in certified timber by 2025

The Belgian fifth-generation family company, founded in 1883, Vandecasteele Houtimport specialises in the import, trading and export of tropical hardwood from Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, Scandinavian and North-American softwood, North American and European hardwood.

Sustainability and reliability are an essential part of Vandecasteele Houtimport’s DNA. With over 140 years of experience, the company is determined to achieve the goal of trading only certified timber by 2025. The challenge lies with the hardwood and especially the tropical hardwoods. Today they are at 80% certified and have a clear vision: only certified timber has a future.

A long-term goal that can only be achieved by including all partners. Substantial investments have been made over the years to be able to realise this future goal. You cannot achieve this goal overnight. This is a long-term job in which all partners must be included. If we want to assure our customers that we keep our promise to only trade timber that comes from well-managed, certified forests, we need to be sure that all our trading partners share the same strictest certification and sustainability processes as we do.

Vandecasteele Houtimport has a unique business model. Importing timber from all over the world, keeping in stock for several years, in some cases, even decades. Stock is our strength and our specialty. In times when supply is difficult or tight, we can count on our invested stocks to guarantee continued supply.

To achieve our goal, we have taken several actions within the company. First, we were assisted by external experts to get the procedures and protocols in place. Secondly, the team at Vandecasteele was reinforced with two forest engineers in Brazil. That way we can keep a finger on the pulse of every shipment, and we are able to accurately apply the ever-changing legislation in Brazil with great precision. This sends an important signal to our suppliers. They know that doing business with Vandecasteele Houtimport means complying with a procedure that is continuously refined and adapted. All timber transport requires our approval. When in doubt the timber is not accepted.

Masters in diversification
Vandecasteele has a long-term commitment to preserving the forests. The family business imports more than 130 different species of timber coming from 40 countries and has over 120,000 cubic meters in stock, mainly certified hard and softwoods. We support the LKTS program of FSC® Denmark with which we want to help promote the use of lesser known species. We keep these lesser-known species in stock and offer them as alternatives. Timber is too often prescribed from a specific well-known species. From the point of view of responsible forest management, we must dare to choose the right durability class for an application instead of a specific timber species.

Rethink everything: A positive evolution in consumer purchasing behaviour
Customers are increasingly asking questions about certification and the origin of the timber. Buyers are becoming more and more aware of the need to use certified timber. Importing tropical wood goes further than just asking for timber. There is a continuous evolution, because of new insights and new legislation.

Our company continues to make efforts to embed sustainability into the business. We validate our organization’s sustainability efforts with the Voka Charter for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (VCDO).

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