EU Deforestation Regulation and Compliance
2,000 years ago, 80 percent of Western Europe was forested; Today, that number is only 34 percent. Deforestation affects everyone in the world. It is responsible for approximately 10 percent of global warming. Without trying to combat deforestation, it is impossible to combat global warming.
Unsustainable farming methods
An example of this is slash-and-burn agriculture. It occurs when a farmer burns down trees on their land, allowing the ash to fertilize the land for crops. Although this may be sustainable for the farmers for a short period, they have to repeat it as the soil only remains fertile for a couple of years. It is not a sustainable farming method for the planet in the long run, as it causes long-term harm to the environment.
When trees are cleared to make room for farming practices like logging, oil palm, rubber tree plantations, and cattle ranching, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere increases. Trees play a vital role in the atmosphere as they take in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, which is locked in their wood. When farmers burn the trees, this carbon dioxide is released into the air. As the number of trees continues to decline, an increasing amount of greenhouse gas collects in the atmosphere, accelerating global warming.
In addition to the environmental repercussions listed above, deforestation threatens biodiversity and leaves soil more prone to erosion and forest fires.
Enforcing sustainable farming methods
The EU are working to limit the trade of products linked to deforestation worldwide to help combat the effects of climate change. The new regulation sets strict mandatory due diligence rules for companies that want to place relevant products on the EU market or export them. Once it becomes law, traders and operators have 18 months to adjust to the regulations, while smaller companies will have two years to adapt.
Operators and traders will have to prove that the products do not originate on land deforested after the 31st of December 2020. In addition to deforestation, operators will need to verify their production complies with the local laws of the producing country.
The metrics will be evaluated based on crop-specific criteria, regional or country-specific regulations, as well as EU-specified criteria. When considering the criteria, the metrics set by the EU will be used as the baseline standard, and any other criteria, be it regional, country-specific, or produce-specific, will be taken into account based on the highest of the two standards. If a specific country’s criteria are different or have different components, measurements from both will be taken into account, and the higher standards will be considered the primary metric.
So what does this mean? Farmers around the globe are adjusting their farming practices to adhere to these new environmentally conscious changes. Farmers have to substantiate their farming practices to allow for the export of produce; otherwise, the importer will face fines of up to four percent of their annual EU turnover.
Besides avoiding deforestation to make way for farmland, planting new trees can make farms more sustainable. Some crops like coffee and cocoa grow very well under the shade of large trees. In addition, fruit-bearing shade trees can provide additional income for farmers. However, reducing deforestation doesn’t start and end with the farmers. Influential commodity trading companies are crucial to reducing farmers’ pressure to produce more.
The future of farming
Dimitra offers a Deforestation Certification Module as an upgrade to its Connected Farmer and Livestock Guru platforms making deforestation evaluation accessible to combat the climate crisis. The deforestation module makes it possible for producers and traders to prove their goods are unrelated to deforestation and helps regulatory authorities confirm compliance. GPS Track and trace is required to prove compliance with the new EU regulations by being able to show that the product was registered and came directly from the farm.
Origin farms are defined by a geo-fence so that the system can continuously monitor land use via satellite. When products are being verified, the regulatory authority can trace the product back to its origin farm and assess if any trees were lost to make way for planting crops. Users also can create a year-over-year user-generated report based on data from their designated geofence inputs for an additional fee.
So, who can benefit from adopting this technology? This technology can impact any party within the agricultural chain. For example, farmers and cooperatives can consolidate the information on their farms, and governments can provide better compliance and standardized assessment for the buyers and producers of affected products. All of this data is written to an enterprise grade blockchain to provide transparency and take advantage of blockchain’s security and immutable ledger.
Dimitra also adds other values of importance to the EU, including the responsible use of pesticides, soils, and water, and respect for humans, including labor rights.
Striving for a greener future
With Dimitra’s ability to fully automate the capture of deforestation, calculating the loss and coverage with year-over-year reporting, farmers, cooperatives, and governments can improve the accuracy of their information while helping to combat deforestation while trying to make an impact on climate change. Working towards this goal is essential to improve the state of the environment globally. In fact, it is estimated by the assessment from the European Commission that at least 71,920 hectares (278 sq miles) of forest annually — (around 100,000 football pitches) will be protected with this law. As a result, global carbon emissions are also estimated to drop by 31.9 million.
Learn more about how technology can help combat global warming. Visit www.dimitra.io.