A group certification project has led to more than 90% of Dutch roundwood traders achieving Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) chain of custody.

The Dutch minister of agriculture, nature and food quality presented the first certificate to Bosexploitatie Van den Nagel BV, a Dutch roundwood trade company with its own harvesting and transport equipment, which represented 40 companies.

The project was funded by the eight organisations including the Association of Forest Contractors and Roundwood Processing Industries and the Royal Paper and Board Association.

The Dutch had realised that while more than 35% of the forest area in the Netherlands had been FSC certified since 2003, forests in neighbouring countries were mainly certified to PEFC standards.

Considerable volumes are processed in Dutch sawmills and the paper industry, and to ensure wood reaches consumers as certified products, the Dutch roundwood trade, acting as the link between forest management and the roundwood processing industry, needed chain of custody certification to both standards.

Kees Boon, chairman of the Association for Forest Contractors and Roundwood Processing Industries, said: “This is a fantastic achievement; our members with activities in harvesting, trade and processing have assured themselves in a very short time of a passport which gives them access to the growing market of wood products of which the sustainability of origin can be demonstrated.

“To both forest owners and the processing industry we’ve now filled in the missing link in the wood chain from certified forest to the end consumer. From now on it is up to the market to stimulate further developments.”

The group certification scheme cuts the cost of certification considerably from an average €2,000 a year, enabling more companies to participate.