Insight

Exceptional growth in export of tree logs from port of Rotterdam

The growing supply of dead wood has led to a huge increase in European container exports. Since 2018, around 180,000 ha of German woodlands have been lost to drought and the advancing bark beetle. This wood is exported to China from various ports, including Rotterdam, on a large scale. Before being greenlighted for export, these shipments have to be treated at a fumigation facility such as the one found in the Waalhaven area. After this, the container is transported by inland vessel to the deep sea terminals at Maasvlakte, and from there onwards to Asia.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of containers with all sorts of different wood types are shipped from Europe to China. Most of them contain tree logs that are processed in China itself into final products – particleboard and furniture, for example.

In the past, these containers were usually treated with an insecticide to kill the insects living in the shipment. But when this wood was sawed in China, there still turned out to be live insects under the bark. That’s why since a few years ago, China has required containers with tree logs to be either fumigated or heat-treated before departing for China.

Bark beetle

The dry weather and high temperatures of the past two summers have enabled the bark beetle to gain a foothold in Germany’s forests. Trees produce less resin during dry spells. This allows the bark beetle to nest and reproduce, destroying thousands of trees in the process.

There is a massive demand for this dead wood in China. Chinese companies use it to manufacture all sorts of products, which are then imported by European firms. Guitars, for example, or furniture. Or DIY products, sales of which have been boosted by the increase in home improvement projects as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, among other things.

Quarantining

Before this wood is approved for export, it first has to be fumigated. This treatment kills the bark beetle, preventing its spread. Because the risk of this insect nesting in the forests of other countries has increased considerably due to the container transport of wood.

That is why fumigation, also referred to as quarantining, has been made mandatory for outgoing shipments. Over the past two months, Kwaliteit Gasmeting Nederland (KGN), which specialises in fumigation and gas measurements, has already fumigated over 2,400 containers with dead wood. KGN has reported a 350 percent increase in treatments compared to last year.

Increased fumigation capacity in Rotterdam

The huge increase in the demand for fumigation services in the Rotterdam region can be attributed to insufficient capacity in neighbouring countries. KGN offers a local capacity of three fumigation chambers – in the port of Rotterdam, at Waalhaven and at Maasvlakte.

‘The big advantage of our locations is that we can accommodate truck, inland shipping and rail volumes. At present, we have a capacity of over 500 containers per run,’ says Dennis de Roo of D&R Group.

Joint venture

KGN is a joint venture of EWS Group and Van Donge & de Roo Group, or D&R Group for short. EWS Group specialises in fumigation, all forms of pest control, gas measurements and the ventilation of containers in Europe.

Van Donge & de Roo is a global provider of logistics services in the areas of sea cargo and air freight, customs, intermodal transport via inland shipping/rail and depot services in Antwerp and Rotterdam.

The partners’ combined strengths enable KGN to offer a comprehensive set of fumigation-related services, from fumigation to transport arrangements, customs facilities and certification.

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