EUDR Geolocation: Tackling Global Deforestation

By Michael Hermens, Group Managing Director of APP Timber, a solution-providing company for over 25 years, specialising in imported certified timber and wood-based materials.

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 struggle to meet this requirement. 

For example, the US 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 different 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 US, other nations facing higher deforestation risks are raising concerns with the EU, requesting the removal of the geolocation requirement. 

Nevertheless, the EU is unlikely to oblige, given its commitment to global deforestation mitigation.

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