AHEC initiates EUDR response mechanism

The next phase of the European Union Deforestation Regulations (EUDR) response mechanism for US hardwoods is underway, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry.

AHEC is working with the US hardwood industry to develop a system that will facilitate EUDR compliance, which will allow American hardwood exporters to reassure concerned buyers that a system is being developed that will potentially

enable all containers of US hardwood arriving in the European Union from December 31, 2024, to be accompanied by the documentation required to demonstrate legal and deforestation-free origin, including geo-location data.

The framework that is being developed comprises four components. Firstly, a regularly updated database differentiating US hardwood harvest geo-locations which are ‘deforestation-free’ from those which are not ‘deforestation-free’.

Secondly, an online application to make this data freely accessible to US hardwood mills and other operators engaged in the export trade. Thirdly, independent third-party assessments of the risk of illegal harvesting in the US hardwood producing states.

Lastly, a chain of custody (CoC) standard for hardwood mills and downstream distributors, exporters and manufacturers, to ensure that the legal and deforestation-free claim is applied only to verified US hardwoods.

Employing AI

The database of US hardwood harvest geo-locations will be prepared and maintained by a technical consultancy commissioned by AHEC that will combine satellite imagery with digital cadastral (property) data.

By regularly monitoring these datasets (at least quarterly), and through development of algorithms, use of AI, and ground truthing as required, the technical consultancy will categorise all hardwood forest disturbances into those where there is evidence of deforestation and those where there is evidence of selection harvesting/ continuous cover operations not leading to deforestation which are thereby ‘deforestation-free’.

“This pilot will help clarify how satellite data can identify canopy changes that signify hardwood harvests and those which are deforestation-free, and the level of resolution and frequency of forest assessment required to satisfy the law,” stated Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.

Risk assessment

US state legality risk assessments aligned with EUDR requirements are now being prepared for the 33 states identified as significant producers of hardwoods. They are being undertaken according to the ‘Framework for Jurisdictional Risk Assessment of Legal Compliance of Hardwood Production in the USA’ developed by AHEC’s Sustainable Hardwood Coalition (SHC) initiative.

The risk assessment process involves review of publicly available information, as well as interviews with knowledgeable experts and stakeholders, including staff at state agencies, university extension, industry and landowner associations, NGOs, and other groups.

Each completed assessment is subject to additional scrutiny by an independent expert before publication as an SHC-endorsed risk assessment.

Data provided by the EU Observatory is encouraging for all US wood suppliers as it shows that deforestation in the US, according to EUDR definitions, is effectively zero.

This does, at least, imply that the US will likely be identified as a ‘low risk’ country and subject only to ‘simplified’ due diligence under the terms of EUDR.

However, this will not exempt US hardwood products from the geo-location obligation which applies irrespective of the level of risk.

The data system that AHEC is commissioning will be able to provide geo-location data for deforestation- and degradation-free plots of land from which the material in any given container could have come from.

For more information, visit:, and follow AHEC on @ahec_india.



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