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EUDR Geolocation: Tackling Global Deforestation

Climate change is a reality, with more frequent heatwaves and tropical storms causing devastating fires and floods worldwide. This is mainly linked to global warming, partly due to deforestation. The European Union (EU) plans to implement the European Anti-Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) by the end of 2024. The goal is to reduce the EU’s impact on global deforestation by encouraging ‘deforestation-free’ product consumption and prohibiting non-compliant product placement or export in/from the EU market.

EUDR mandates operators to provide geocoordinates for harvested land plots. Geolocation involves specifying a land plot’s location using latitude and longitude coordinates with at least six decimal digits.

However, operators, especially those harvesting from non-plantation forests, may need help to meet this requirement. For example, the United States has fragmented land ownership, with smallholders, farmers, and non-industrial owners dominating forest land ownership. Harvests from each land plot are small, forcing hardwood mills to source logs from hundreds of forest owners annually. Obtaining and linking geolocation data for all these plots of land to meet EUDR’s mandate presents a formidable challenge.

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) proposes linking the geolocation requirement to a country’s deforestation risk. Countries with “low risk” would be exempt. While this may help the United States, other nations facing higher deforestation risks are raising concerns with the EU, requesting the removal of the geolocation requirement. Nevertheless, given its commitment to global deforestation mitigation, the EU is unlikely to oblige.

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