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What you need
to know to source
European hardwood

Ownership of European Forest & Demand of Hardwood 

Slightly less than half of Europe forest land is privately owned and some are state owned. A large part is owned by the forest industry or families. There are as well millions of small forest landholders that often gather up in forest unions to play a more significant part in the industry. Total production of hardwood sawn timber is steady, at about 6 million m3 yearly. Demand is on the way up in Europe. However, some countries are experiencing problems in raw materials’ supply for some years, which is keeping production below potential. This descending trend is expected to continue in the years to come.

Europe is a large continent and not all European countries are managed by the same system. North, South, East and West Europe are all different managed with different culture, traditions and agendas. Most of the PEFC certified forest is in western Europe, while Eastern Europe is more FSC oriented.

We got European Union who dictate how straight or curved a banana or a cucumber can be in different quality rankings, but there are, to my knowledge, no rules for appearance or how many defects or how much yield a wooden board can have.

 

Grading System in Europe | Same but Different  

In all honesty, France has tried to come up with an Oak grading system with inspiration from the American NHLA system. But then again, that is only for French, not German, Croatian, or Ukrainian Oak. And even between the French sawmills, the understanding of the grading system can be different. Although most French sawmill produce according to QF2, QBA or QS1, you can also find sawmills that produces ABC grade.  You can also buy timber graded in American 1COM style in Germany. So, the level of complexity for grading European hardwood is big.

Traditionally, European hardwood mills have cut the logs through and sold unedged boards and boules. The grading ABC is referring to the grading of the logs. Grading can vary from sawmill to sawmill, depending on the quality of the log. European timber buyers are purchasing according to their end-use requirements, such as moldings, furniture, floorboards, or parquet, and less based on specific grading rules. An ABC grade in sawn timber means a saw-falling quality.

Price will vary depending on growth area and dimension. Some mills have started producing square edged timber mainly in Beech and Oak. E.g., Oak in fixed widths which is in high demand for floorboards. France is the only country who has made a kind of common grading rules which, however, can vary a lot from mill to mill.

Finding a perfect match for your production 

We know our suppliers; we work with the most serious sawmills in Europe and our home team in Europe organizes quality controls before shipments. We want to connect our customer to the best fitting suppliers and tie up long term relationships. We know why the grading from one specific sawmill can be the perfect match to your production.

From Europe we do a large volume in Oak, Ash and Beech round logs which are carefully inspected by our foresters.  It is always a good idea to keep the eyes open for more variety of species – European hardwood is not only White and Red Oak. There are many other great species like Beech, Ash, but also Poplar and Limewood.  We can as well source Walnut, Cherry, Alder, and Birch in smaller volumes.

European hardwoods are the most precious temperate hardwoods in the world. Your European hardwood supply is always in good hands when you buy from Global Timber Asia.

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European Union and Europe are not the same.

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union between 27 EU countries, while Europe is a larger continent, including 23 extra countries, which are not part of the European Union.

The European Union is also the largest trade block in the world. It is the world’s biggest exporter of manufactured goods and services, and the biggest import market for over 100 countries.[1].

The risk profile of EU timber

The single European market has led to a set of common policies for all the 27 countries, that range from climate and environment to external relations. All EU countries have policies and practices requiring reforestation.

The risk level for illegality is rather low in EU, as also shown on the colored map below.

Europe is the only region that has a positive net change in forest area for the past 20 years. Europe has gained 5.1 million hectares of forest and other forest land since 2005, and 16.69 million hectares since 1990. The total standing volume in Europe in 2010 amounted to 96,252 million cubic meters, of which 21,750 million cubic meters are in 27 EU countries. The net annual increment within the EU 27 is estimated at 620 million cubic meters.[2]

 

European hardwood at Global Timber

Temperate wood is not under the same pressures as tropical wood and the countries where we source most of our temperate timber are on the low-risk scale, according to Preferred by Nature Sourcing Hub.

 

If we were to compare the legality aspect to America, we can say that the EU is on the same level or even more prominent. Most timber in western Europe is either PEFC or FSC certified, compared to American hardwood. Some of the more “difficult” countries got less certification, but Global Timber maintains a good supply of for example beech from Ukraine which is FSC 100% certified.

Another important aspect of the EU is that the end-products you export to EU do not need to be certified to be imported. All you need is legal wood, and you can be sure that most European timber is legal, even without the reassurance of a certification. You need to comply with the EUTR legislation, and all our timber does. So, in the end certified European timber is a good option, if you need a third-party guarantee for the sustainability of your products.

Compliance with European Timber Regulation

At Global Timber we only purchase from approved suppliers complying with EU Legal Requirements. As a company with Scandinavian values, we strive to create continuous growth and expand the business globally, while respecting the environment in the process.

We operate a robust Due Diligence System, in which we verify the origin of the timber we import, to exclude controversial sources.

The following sources are considered controversial:

• Illegally harvested wood

• Timber coming from territories in which traditional and civil rights are violated

• Territories and regions with armed conflicts

• Natural forests that have been converted to plantations

• Forests that are planted with genetically modified trees

We only do business with partners whom we have reasons to trust as acting with due diligence and we continuously progress towards more certified products from all our suppliers.

 

[1] https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/eu-in-brief_en
[2] https://www.eos-oes.eu/en/topics.php?id=19

 

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