Frequently Asked Questions


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Life cycle analysis

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How do we ensure the legality of the wood we source?

We don’t trade wood featuring on the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

By preference we buy exclusively certified timber that complies with the major international third party verification schemes:

  1. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

  2. Program for the endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

  3. Origine et Légalité des bois (OLB)

  4. NEPcon LEGAL SOURCE standard.

We ensure European standards compliant due diligence (EUTR/FLEGT):

  1.  We undertake field visits at forest management units and/or

  2. We perform yearly audits on suppliers

  3. We use satellite data, information gathered from GPS loggers and digital fingerprints

We permanently investigate the latest traceability technologies such as Block chain and advanced Digital fingerprint recognition.

Where feasible, commercial partners assist by conducting the checking and verification of documents.

We verify compliance with the applicable legislation in the country of harvest through independent audits

In 2019 Vandecasteele has appointed a local Sustainability Field Supervisor in Brazil.


How do we contribute to the environmental value of wood?

  • Complying with all major international certification standards, we permanently promote sustainable forest Management (SFM). This safeguards the preservation of forests, protects biodiversity, combats deforestation and illegal logging and halts the loss and degradation of forest ecosystems.

  • By responsibly trading wood, we preserve sustainable managed forests that are carbon neutral: the amount of carbon that can be released as a result of harvesting is equal to or smaller than the amount taken from the atmosphere.

  • We actively promote the responsible usage of wood as the most environmental friendly construction and production material as eco-friendly substitutes to less sustainable materials such as steel or concrete. 

  • We also trade a large range of lesser commercially known species that might otherwise miss their environmental value: 33 different species from African forests, 32 different species from South-American forests.

  • In comparison with many other timber traders, we also accept to trade all dimensions of the wood harvested from a log to minimize the waste of unused wood that does not comply with standard commercial dimensions.

  • We keep stock for our customers, so our supplier can optimize the production and the transport to Europe in one go.

  • In order to pro-actively protect the environmental value of tropical wood from 2019 Vandecasteele has appointed a local Sustainability Field Supervisor in Brazil.

How do we contribute to the economic value of wood?

  • In the long run, local communities worldwide surely depend on the environmental AND economic value of their forests if these latter are sustainably managed.

  • In the short run however, the main cause of deforestation is actually not the harvesting of wood but agricultural expansion. This has a pure economic reason. The benefits of one hectare of palm oil, soy plantation, or cattle breeding outweigh the long-term economic value of the forest.

  • However, harvesting trees in well-managed forests directly reduces the opportunity costs of not converting forests to plantations. At the same time this secures the long term economic value of the forest as a secure bank account for local populations. This by guaranteeing healthy forests that will perpetuate harvesting and thus recurrent income. This can only be achieved if sustainable harvesting rotation cycles, sustainable forest inventory management and selective cutting standards of commercial species are being respected.

How do we contribute to the social value of wood?

  • As a socially responsible company, Vandecasteele aligns with international best practices, such as the standards set out by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Wherever possible, our audits also include a check whether our suppliers respect the core ILO conventions, ILO Code of Practice Safety and Health in Forestry work, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and the United Declaration on Human rights.

  • Vandecasteele is committed to extending these international best practices to all of its sourcing and suppliers.

What is the target date to achieve 100% certification?

Vandecasteele is committed to source 100% from certified suppliers by 2025.

Life cycle analysis

How does the use of wood tackle global warming?

The use of wood as an alternative to other materials, particularly in construction, contributes to reduce human climate impact even further. Adapting material choices, designs and production processes to the new conditions is a major challenge for the construction sector. Greater use of wood-based products and wooden structures is a significant part of the solution, thanks to the material’s carbon storage and substitution effects.

The forest gains its vitality from the sun. Through photosynthesis, solar energy is absorbed and reacts with carbon dioxide to produce nutrients for the growing trees.
The forest’s products contain carbon that has been absorbed by the trees in the form of carbon dioxide: wood captures CO²

 Photosynthesis, the world’s most vital formula

6H2O + 6CO² + solar energy > C6H12O6 + 6O² Water carbon dioxide > glucose + oxygen

Do we perform environmental and social impact assessments?

We adhere to the European timber regulation 995/2010 (EUTR) that came into force in 2013 prohibiting placing illegally harvested timber on the European market.

The regulation is a major part of the EU’s effort to reduce deforestation and protect at risk tree species as part of the EU Forest, Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

To ensure a EUTR/FLEGT compliant due diligence process we carry out self-conducted audits on a permanent basis:

  1. We undertake field visits at forest management units and/or

  2. We perform yearly audits on suppliers

  3. We use satellite data, information gathered from GPS loggers and digital fingerprints

  4. We permanently investigate the latest traceability technologies such as Block chain and advanced Digital fingerprint recognition.

Do we support projects to combat illegal timber trade/deforestation?

We run a company wide sensitization policy to buy predominantly certified timber that complies with third party verification schemes such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), PEFC (Program for the endorsement of Forest Certification), OLB (Origine et Légalité des bois) and the NEPcon LEGAL SOURCE standard.

How much of the 3rd party timber supply is FSC – PEFC certified?

Our FSC – PEFC commitment results in the following scores:

1.    Softwoods: 100% FSC® or PEFC

2.    Tropical hardwoods: 50% FSC- PEFC – 3RD party certified.

How does VDC track the origin of wood sourced throughout the entire supply chain?

We ensure European standard compliant due diligence (EUTR/FLEGT):

  1. We undertake field visits at forest management units and/or

  2. We perform yearly audits on suppliers

  3. We use satellite data, information gathered from GPS loggers and digital fingerprints

  4. We permanently investigate the latest traceability technologies such as Block chain and advanced Digital fingerprint recognition

Where feasible, commercial partners assist by conducting the checking and verification of documents throughout the entire supply chain.

We verify compliance with the applicable legislation in the country of harvest AND any processing country along the supply chain through independent audits.

In 2019 Vandecasteele has appointed a local Sustainability Field Supervisor in Brazil.

Does VDC have a documented sustainability strategy? Appointed Sustainability Manager

We have a sustainability management team in charge of all sustainability topics in our company.

Key figures?

GRI standards reporting – we keep all our data for at least 5 years – on basis of these figures we manage our action plan for the next year.

Which procedures does VDC apply to guarantee legality of the timber? Which key parameters are investigated?

  • We take our responsibility very seriously when placing timber or timber products on the EU market by gathering information about the products we source, asses the risk of non-compliance with applicable legislation and trade legislation and include risk mitigation measures.

  • We guarantee to have an in-house developed due diligence system in place, audited by external consultants with a framework of procedures and processes to ensure the timber we place on the EU market has a legal provenance.

  • As a part of our DDS system we have a publicly available company policy that includes a commitment to comply with all relevant legal requirements. Discover our Vandecasteele Timber Responsible Sourcing Policy here.

  • We have a large stock of certified and 3rd party verified legal timber which is the best proof of compliance within the EU Timber regulation and progressively increase our volumes in certified timber.

  • As a company target we aim to source 100 % certified timber only by 2025. Our DDS system is an ongoing process and is constantly evaluated to have it as robust as possible and according to the latest legal requirements.

Who performs due diligences ?

The purchasing department supervised by the senior management team.

How often are existing suppliers rescreened?

Due diligence is conducted, at least every 12 months to verify that applicable legislation is complied with.

Does VDC invest in projects of collective interest ? Please specify by area.

  1. Healthcare – FSC supports the healthcare for local communities

  2. Education – Habbekrats – woodworker education – beekeeper education

  3.  Agriculture, farming, and fishing – We support local agriculture

  4.  Road infrastructures – We have built our own roads – a cycling path and sidewalk next to our company, our own access road.

  5.  Water supply – we have our own water reservoirs which have various purposes: collecting water, prevent flooding, emergency support to farmers in times of drought and last but not least, it is beautifully integrated in the environment.

  6.  Forestry Management – all projects FSC , PEFC and OLB we strongly support by buying certified timber.

  7.  Any other activities to generate revenues – de Warmste Week , Belgium’s most successful end of year Charity Program – Habbekrats – every year we choose a new project which we finance and support with our whole team.


How does VDC integrate sustainability in its daily operations?

  • Since 2000 we committed ourselves to integrate sustainability in our daily operations by signing the West Flanders Corporate Sustainability Charter, committing to environmental objectives exceeding applicable environmental legislation.

  • We want to prove that we are considerate and efficient, without benefiting from exploitation or taking advantage of natural resources. The Charter is a management tool and is based on the 5“P” s  Planet - People –Prosperity - Partnership and Peace. Vandecasteele Houtimport is committed to continuously improve performances on all levels.

  • We have realized 540 sustainability actions in 10 relevant themes since the year 2000.  Charter themes focus on 10 topics including management  of  energy , water, waste, pollution, noise and packaging.   Also, the environmental integration of the company, people management etc. all relevant to our business.

  • Since 2018, the Charter has undergone a serious face lift.  The Chamber of Commerce has changed the name into "Voka Corporate sustainability Charter".  The new charter is based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.  Companies who have participated over 3 years and who have incorporated the 17 Sustainability Goals of the United Nations into their daily activities, will receive the UNITAR certificate (United Nations Institute for Training and Research). In 2020, we have earned our "SDG-Pioneer" certificate.

  • Our action plan for 2019-2020:

    SDG 1: Corporate governance – identifying risks of human rights.

    SDG 4: Social engagement – Cooperation with schools and universities – WOOD FOR LIFE

    SDG 5: People management - hiring people on basis of their skills and competence and not gender.

    SDG 6: Quality of our environment – biodegradable wastewater management.

    SDG 9: Durable logistics – Investment in electronic battery charger for cars.

    SDG 11: Risk control – Cyber attack proof company

    SDG 14: Cradle to cradle management – no more plastic in our timber packaging

    SDG 15: Climate change and energy – Tackle climate – use WOOD.

    SDG 16: Durable investments and purchasing - Bringing new technologies into our Due diligence

    SDG 16: Communication and dialogue – 100@PARIS

How frequently does VDC train its team on sustainability & transparency related topics?

  • This is an ongoing process.  Our people attend conferences, meetings, fairs, webinars, and expert groups to train themselves and their colleagues on a permanent basis, sharing all relevant updates via a performing intranet and quarterly information sharing sessions.

  • We want resilient people who pro-actively face the future sustainability challenges in the timber trade industry.

What are the key challenges VDC faces in safeguarding sustainability?

A lack of information and misinformation remain a big challenge. Therefore, we are investing in 100 % traceability and transparency with the help of new technology such as Digital Fingerprints and Block chain technology.

Our team is fully committed to systematically gather and document all information required to guarantee that the international certification standards are respected or even exceeded throughout the entire supply chain.

We appointed a local Sustainability Field Supervisor in Brazil to conduct field audits and CoC verification. 

How does VDC contribute to the 17 United Nations sustainability goals? Projects and figures?

We have obtained our "SDG Pioneer" Certificate in October 2020 and we also signed The Pledge of the United Nations.

Defining Success Across Generations

We, a global community of family businesses, commit to build a sustainable future across generations.

Family businesses contribute meaningfully to both economic growth and employment and have the potential to create a more purpose-driven model of business. With our inherent focus on long-term success and responsible ownership, we strive to apply our entrepreneurial know-how and resources to build a just and equitable world, where our planet will flourish across generations. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide family businesses with opportunities to create a shared prosperity for all. We commit to taking action on the SDGs by advocating for and upholding the following principles:

  • Sustainable Growth: To promote and model business practices and investments that will enable sustainable economic growth and deliver long-term value creation for all present and future stakeholders

  • Environmental Stewardship: To have a positive long-term impact by taking urgent action on climate change, enabling sustainable production and consumption, and advancing the responsible use of natural resources.

  • Social Inclusion: To promote inclusive practices in our communities and beyond, including gender equality, diversity and decent work, to ensure that both current and future generations attain dignity and fulfil their potential.

  • Good Governance: To establish sound family and corporate governance structures that are transparent, inclusive and accountable to stakeholders; to ensure compliance with ethical and corruption-free business practices.

In partnership with United Nations (UNCTAD), we will track our progress and assess the impact of our pledge in a transparent manner, using a common set of performance indicators.

We invite you to act now and join us in creating a shared prosperity. Together we will build a sustainable future and define success across generations.

27 April 2020

How does VDC minimize waste?

The tropical timber arrives free from plastic packaging. 
The timber crates are 100% re-usable. 
Some of the Scandinavian Softwood still arrives plastic wrapped. We are persuading our suppliers NOT to use plastic wrapping any more, rather to use paper or nothing at all. 
When plastic wrappings arrive in our company, we remove it and re-use it. Eventually, the plastic foil is collected in a container for recycling locally.
Particle or dust waste is collected and sent for recycling.
Metal waste is a precious resource, and therefore also recycled locally.

How does VDC reduce energy consumption? Responsible production?

Our main energy consumption consists of LED lighting for which the energy is maximally produced by our own solar panels. The energy of the trucks and side loaders is diesel.  All engines are complying with the highest EURO standard. 

We purchase our timber in big quantities and in a variety of species and sizes. This allows us to reduce transport and handling costs.

How does VDC improve social equality and human rights? Percentage of women employed?

We strive to obtain gender equality at all levels. We hire people based on their skills and competences without gender preference.  Besides near gender equality within  all our management, office and sales team, we have one female truck driver and strive to continue to raise gender equality. Through our commitment to the Durability Charter, since 2000, we are integrating the 17 SDG's in our daily activities.

How does VDC support the development of local communities?

FSC certified timber contributes to the local communities by providing education, health care and housing, …. We are promoting certified timber, especially FSC certified timber. Our goal is to trade only certified timber by 2025.

Does VDC keep an exclusion list of unethical/unsustainable suppliers?

Of course, we are not only legally bound to, but also fully committed to give notice of any infringement of international legislation/certification standards. We keep record of all disputes and remedial actions we encounter. We take appropriate action and we document our actions and their effectiveness. In addition, designated staff records the process of handling a dispute, including the investigation process and decision.