Navigating EUDR: An Introduction and Next Steps

Posted on January 12th, 2024

The European Deforestation Regulation is poised to change the way we look at sustainability and transparency. Come with us as we unpack what we know so far, and dig into what is to come.

By Devon Barker – Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement

The sound of cicadas resonates through the forest floor as birds swoop and play overhead in a tangle of green that the sun itself struggles to penetrate. The crunch of boots in soil and the slight drip-drip of condensation rolling down the tree trunks play on the ears as fruiting coffee plants enjoy the nourishment and workers harvest the fruit of their labor. Excuse the romanticism, if you’ve visited a farm with a history of maintaining native forests or intentionally reforesting, you’ve likely had this idyllic sensory experience and it’s easy to wax poetic. I found myself sitting in this serene place quietly snapping photos and listening to a farmer talk about his plans for next year on the farm, at their home which sits on the farms edge, and perhaps most importantly the need to be wary of snakes rumored to stalk unsuspecting visitors who take a bush break.

“…si tenemos Quetzales a veces. Yo vi dos este mes. Como un espirito!” — yeah we have Quetzals here sometimes. I saw two this month. Like a spirit!

The mention of the national bird of Guatemala, the Quetzal, makes my eyes dart to the canopy overhead hoping to catch a glimpse of this increasingly illusive emerald bird I’ve been longing to see. Let’s keep this setting in mind, I believe it frames the conversation we’re about to have quite nicely.

There’s a stirring in the world of sustainability that ripples from the European Union (EU); driven by climate justice, the advancement of technology, or perhaps the less than subtle hints that our home planet needs care. The stirring I refer to is a global shift from voluntary to prescribed sustainability. It’s the alignment of legislation around protecting the environment and the people who live in it.

The European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) is a first of its kind piece of legislation that seeks “to guarantee that the products consumed in the EU do not contribute to global deforestation.” Notice that the Regulation specifically calls upon deforestation to be eliminated globally. This fundamental shift in perspective from a focus on domestic EU forest management, to the Regulation of products that contribute to or are derived from commodities that drive deforestation and therefore impair the ability of the EU to meet its climate commitments, reflects similar legislation being proposed in other countries of the global north with worldwide impacts, such as the FOREST act in the United States.

Where are we now and how did we get here

EUDR traces its roots all the way back to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, where for the first-time environmental policy was introduced to the European Union framework which included specific calls to protect domestic forest ecosystems. Since then, addressing deforestation has been included in most environmental policies either directly through restriction on lumber trade, or as part of biodiversity protection efforts. This changed when the EU committed to minimizing deforestation and restoring forests to combat climate change as part of the Paris Agreement in 2015. By including deforestation in the agreement (amongst other commitments), the EU is obligated to set defined actions for addressing deforestation (and other ways the EU contributes to climate change) in the European Green Deal (2020).

This is where we find ourselves today, EUDR as a means to that end. At time of writing, the Regulation has passed, been written into the EUs Official Journal, and is in “force” which means that it becomes directly applicable to EU member states. The time from when a Regulation is in force to when it goes into “application” is the period where those affected should begin to implement the Regulation. Once the Regulation is in application, it becomes mandatory and enforced. The way you implement the requirements and the deadline to get ready depends on two things, if you are representing a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME – based on staff count and turnover), and if you are classified as an Operator or a Trader under the Regulation (more on that later).

Before we dig in, let’s look at some of the dates you need to be aware of…

Before we dig in, let’s look at some of the dates you need to be aware of:

  • December 31, 2020: Products must be deforestation free from this date forward.
  • June 29,2023: Regulation entered into force.
  • June 30, 2024: Presentation of another impact assessment (pay attention to this assessment and any changes that may be proposed to per commodity impacts, scope, or future datesi)
  • December 30, 2024: Regulation enters into application for non-SMEs.
  • June 30, 2025: Regulation enters into application for SMEs.

The soreness in my neck reminds me I’ve been looking up and neglecting my companion for too long. Casually harvesting coffee he says…

”pero el bosque esta cambiando”— but the forest is changing

…pointing downhill towards the bottom of the farm where family members gather limbs that have dropped to use as firewood.

All thoughts of the resplendent Quetzal are interrupted by this simple statement…”The forest is changing”. My mind cycles through the news headlines. Of course the forest is changing. People, climate, politics; the attention span is spread thin by all the challenges we face as humanity. But I don’t think that is quite what he means.

To get a grasp on why coffee is included in the EUDR, we need to agree upon some definitions. Schwarzwald, Redwood National Park, The Sundarbans, or Bwindi Impenetrable forest might look a bit different than the forests you and I have experienced, so for now we’ll stick to how the EU chose to define them. As written in the Regulation and its background researchii:

Forest: means land spanning more than 0,5 hectares with trees higher than 5 metres and a canopy cover of more than 10 %, or trees able to reach those thresholds in situ, excluding land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.

Deforestation: The conversion of forest to agricultural use, whether human-induced or notiii.

Forest degradation: Structural changes to forest cover, taking the form of primary forests or naturally regenerating forests into plantation forests into other wooded land or primary forests into planted forests.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2020 Global Forest Resources Assessment, about 73 percent of deforestation is due to agricultural expansion with more than 90 percent of overall deforestation taking place in tropical and sub-tropical countriesiv. The products that fall under EUDR, including coffee, are generally grown or raised in these areas. An efficiency analysis performed in 2019v identified the commodities that both contribute to deforestation and bring the highest benefits of reduction per unit of value to the EU. This research found that seven commodities represent the largest share of EU-driven deforestation globallyvi

From these commodities, a list of derivative products was created to uniquely identify and track their end use and overall contribution to deforestation. This list includes product code

“HS0901: Coffee, whether roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion .”

So coffee is included because it is mostly grown in places at risk of deforestation or forest degradation, and is an agricultural product. However the Regulation does not differentiate the requirements for each of these commodities, they are treated equally in the eyes of the EU. Which had me wondering how a single piece of legislation can be applied universally to systems that are as complex as coffee or any of the other industries listed; industries that have drastically different histories, investment, human rights concerns, and effects from climate change?

Perhaps Dr. Janina Grabs and Dr. Stefano Ponte put this most pointedly in their introduction to the paper The Evolution of Power in the Global Coffee Value Chain and Production Networks…

“We find that the kinds of power exercised along the coffee chain have changed, but also that the underlying power inequities between Northern buyers and Southern producers have remained fundamentally unchangedviii.

You’re right, the forest is certainly changing, and it’s beginning to look like a jungle.

Sustainability needs everyone to get involved

It’s quiet. The family members helping harvest that day sit nearby over a small fire, taking a moment to warm lunch. The laughter around the fire crackles at the expense of the local football (soccer for those uninitiated) team and their tendency to lose it in the last two minutes, before turning to me and my painfully sunburnt nose. A distant shrill catches my attention, not quite your standard concert flute but a warbling woodwind. The farmer confirms my suspicion as he whips out a small notebook and adds a tally to a column of what I can only assume is Quetzal encounters titled “señales” – signals.

If you are part of the supply chain bringing coffee to customers in the EU this Regulation will likely signal some changes to the way you collect, track, and report sustainability practices. That could be as a producer in the field collecting data, to a roaster tracking the coffees they’ve purchased.

With the Regulation left what seems to be intentionally broad, the impetus for developing the systems to do this and implementing them is being left for the industry to figure out. Systems being developed in parallel, investments by larger actors in proprietary systems, and efforts by governing bodies in countries of production underscore the scattered interpretation of just what will be required and how it will be accomplished. So while we don’t yet fully know how the information will be gathered, secured, communicated, or verified, we do know who will need to be involved in collecting and reporting it.

The Regulation uses slightly different terminology than we may be used to in the coffee world so let’s take a moment to simplify things a little and break down the terminology we’re going to encounter.

Pick out which part(s) of this very simplified physical coffee supply chain that applies to you. We’ll dub this your “Physical Role(s)”:

  1. Producer – The person or business that nurtures that humble seed through to harvest.
  2. Cooperative – A group of producers who come together for mutual benefit.
  3. Exporter – Sometimes this is also the producer or cooperative, or it may be a person or business that is responsible for the paperwork and transportation to move the coffee out of the country of production.
  4. Importer – A person or business that brings coffee from another country, into a chosen market (such as the EU)
  5. Roaster – A person or business that purchases coffee either from an importer or directly from an exporter to be prepared for the consumer.
  6. Consumer – The people that (hopefully) enjoy the fruits of all this labor!

Fortunately, EUDR simplifies this even further and uses two terms to represent the Physical Roles of the supply chain. We’re going to call this your “EUDR Role*”. Your EUDR Role is based on a combination of your Physical Role(s), and the size of your business. If you are not a Small or Medium Size Enterpriseix(SME), you will be classed as an Operator regardless of your Physical Role.

  • Operator: An operator is a person or business that places the regulated commodities on the European Market. An example of this would be an importer such as Cafe Imports, or a roaster who works with exporters and producers directly to bring coffee into the EU. Generally this is a person that is doing the import paperwork.
  • Trader: A trader is a person or businesses that then uses the commodity that has already been imported in a product, or for resale to another trader. An example is a roaster who purchases green coffee from an importer to roast and sell to a customer. General this is anyone trading with someone who has already done the import paperwork but may also include trader to trader transactions.
*Note that there is not a specific EUDR Role that has direct crossover with Producers, Cooperatives or Exporters, though as we’ll see they are the source for most of the required information.


What will need to be reported or tracked by each of these EUDR Roles to get coffee into the EU has been outlined in the Regulation and depends on the role and an EU assigned “risk rating” for every country that will be forth comingx. At time of writing, all countries have been assigned a “standard” risk rating, meaning they all require the same standards. In the future, countries that have a “low-risk” rating will be allowed a form of simplified due diligencexi. The Regulation states that in addition to the typical information needed for import or export such as product code and weight, traceability to the plot(s) where the product comes from including GPS points and perimeter polygons (for farms >4ha), and a Due Diligence statement including a yearly risk assessment of deforestation, forest degradation and respect for relevant legislation on human rights will also need to be included.

It is our current understanding that if you are a Trader (most Roasters who work with an Importer this will be you), that you will be supplied this information on the report registered by the Operator in an EU created information system (this system does not exist at time of writing). The Operator will be provided this information by the Exporter. How the Exporter, Cooperative, and/Producer gather this data in producing countries is still a monumental hurdle to the application of the Regulation and is under development by the private sector, government, and NGOs.

The potential impacts of the data collection and Regulation on actors at production span the gamut from privacy concerns, regressive affects due to changing buying patterns, to increased costs and the risk of supply chain exclusion for non-compliance. We’ll delve deeper into this topic in part two of this series but put simply, producers and especially small holders will disproportionately bear the bulk of the burden without intentional action by Traders and Operators to build capacity with Exporters and ensure systems are put in place for equitable implementationxii. The risk assessment carried out by the European Commission when considering the adoption of EUDR states:

“Whilst smallholder producers and rural communities will ultimately benefit from the policy options (through benefits of healthy ecosystems, nature underpinning wellbeing and growth, and others), mitigation measures such as enhanced EU support to partner countries and operator support within their supply chains will be important from the outset, to ensure support the transition to sustainable production by smallholders in EU commodity supply chains.”xiii

This recommendation has been slow to materialize into action as pointed out in a joint letter to the European Commission, driven by the collective words of 50 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including signatories from Fairtrade International, Solidaridad, Conservation International Europe, Commerce Equitable France, and Root Capitalxiv. If this lack of resources for implementation continues, the burden for smallholders will remain inequitable.

Where do we go from here

The sun sets on another day on the farm, or at least I think it does. It’s hard to tell through the wall of jungle we’re surrounded by. But it’s twilight and everyone is packing up for the day or starting their trek home.

“en tiempos pasados, mi abuelo y yo, vemos muchas Quetzales aquí. Pero yo creo que ellos no les gustan el clima ahora.” – In the past, my grandfather and I saw many Quetzals here. But I don’t think they like the climate now.

With the effects of mandated sustainability just starting to be felt in the coffee industry there’s a few ways you can and we are preparing for what’s to come.

  1. Follow the European Commission Work Program for the coming year. This is a list of all the policies and decisions that will be addressed.
  2. Get involved in the discussion with international organizations (such as the ICO, SCA, ECF) who are working on or encouraging unified methods of data collection and reporting. This will be key to preventing the duplication information gathering and minimizing the burden on producing countries.
  3. Look at the big picture of sustainability to avoid EUDR tunnel vision. Deforestation is a great place to start but consider how it fits into your overall sustainability objectives and reporting needs. (Going through B Corp Certification was a head start and we have a list of additional resources below).
  4. Develop your own policies and guidelines for the ethical use and custody of personally identifying information from producers. It is still unclear how or if data from producers will protected by the EU (our Impact Standards are a great reference).
  5. Collaborate with other people and industries in your area that are likely facing the same challenges. Pre-competitive agreements to share the burden could foster a more equitable implementation and reduce costs for all.
  6. Check back in on this blog series as we update it with new information. If you are part of our email newsletter, we’ll be sure to send you updates!

That day working in the field was not my day to spot a Quetzal. The illusive bird remains a mere enchantment for my imagination, but I hold out hope we’ll cross paths someday. Writing this now as we grapple with what it means to care for our planet and each other in an increasingly disconnected world, I realize what that farmer might have meant by change — it’s important now more than ever to see the forest for the trees.

FAQ – As we understand the regulation right now

I’m a Roaster (Trader in EUDR terms) who sources from an Importer, what information will I need?

Your Importer (Operator in EUDR terms) will be collecting and registering the required information they are provided by the Exporter.


I’m a roaster who sources directly from Exporters or Producers. What will my role be?

If your source does not have an entity in the EU performing the import and acting as the Operator, you would likely be classed as an Operator with the responsibilities that entails.

I’m not an SME (Small or Medium Enterprise), what changes for me?

All non-SMEs will be classed as Operators under the Regulation. There will also be increased requirements for reporting due diligence publicly.

Why is the cutoff for deforestation free December 31, 2020?

The EU impact assessment found concern over a rush of deforestation ahead of the Regulation entering force if the cutoff date was in the futurexv. It also aligns to other country commitments such as the New York Declaration of Forests which aims to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020.

Will there be follow-up reviews or changes to the Regulation?
  • Chapter 9, Article 34 states: By 30 June 2028 and at least every five years thereafter, the Commission shall carry out a general review of this Regulation, and shall present a report to the European Parliament and the Council accompanied, if appropriate, by a legislative proposal. The first of the reports shall include in particular, based on specific studies, an evaluation of:
    • the need for and feasibility of additional trade facilitation tools – and in particular for LDCs highly impacted by this Regulation and countries or parts thereof classified as standard or high risk – to support the achievement of the objectives of this Regulation; EN L 150/240 Official Journal of the European Union 9.6.202
    • the impact of this Regulation on farmers, in particular smallholders, indigenous peoples and local communities and the possible need for additional support for the transition towards sustainable supply chains and for smallholders to meet the requirements of this Regulation;
    • the further extension of the definition of forest degradation, on the basis of an in-depth analysis, and taking into account progress made in international discussions on the matter;
    • the threshold for mandatory use of polygons as referred to in Article 2, point (28), taking into account its impact on tackling deforestation and forest degradation;
    • changes in the trade patterns of the relevant commodities and relevant products included in the scope of this Regulation when those changes could be an indication of a practice of circumvention; (f) an assessment of whether the checks carried out have been effective to ensure that relevant commodities and relevant products made available on the market or exported comply with Article 3.
How will the regulators know if an area has been deforested?

Satellite monitoring of submitted GPS coordinates and perimeters by the EU Observatoryxvi


This blog is not legal advice. With how rapidly these topics are evolving and changing, the information here may be updated or amended so stop back by for the latest. If you are unsure of your role or requirements under EUDR, you should seek legal counsel to make sure you’re on the right track. Check the resources provided below for additional up-to-date information and if you find something in this blog you want to talk about, or have something to contribute, reach out to us at:



i “Regulation (EU) 2023/1115 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 May 2023 on the Making Available on the Union Market and the Export from the Union of Certain Commodities and Products Associated with Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Repealing Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 (,” 2023/1115 § (2023), chap. 8, art 34, at para 1,

ii Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FAO, 2020), 12,

iii “Staff Working Document on the Impact Assessment – Part 1” (European Commission, n.d.), pt. 4.4,

iv Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, 125.

v Regulation (EU) 2023/1115 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 May 2023 on the making available on the Union market and the export from the Union of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation and repealing Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 (, loc. Recital 38.

vi Florence Pendrill et al., “Agricultural and Forestry Trade Drives Large Share of Tropical Deforestation Emissions,” Global Environmental Change 56 (May 2019): 1–10,

vii “Final Annex I – Deforestation Regulation (Attachment 1).Pdf” (n.d.), 1,

viii Janina Grabs and Stefano Ponte, “The Evolution of Power in the Global Coffee Value Chain and Production Network,” Journal of Economic Geography 19, no. 4 (July 1, 2019): 803–28,

ix “SME Definition,” accessed November 27, 2023,

x Regulation (EU) 2023/1115 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 May 2023 on the making available on the Union market and the export from the Union of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation and repealing Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 (, chap. 5, art 29.

xi Regulation (EU) 2023/1115 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 May 2023 on the making available on the Union market and the export from the Union of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation and repealing Regulation (EU) No 995/2010, chap. 2, preprint 13.

xii “Staff Working Document on the Impact Assessment – Part 1,” 61,

xiii “Staff Working Document on the Impact Assessment – Part 1,” 63,

xiv “Open Letter: 50 CSOs Call upon the Commission to Evaluate the Needs of Smallholders and Local Communities to Adapt to EU Deforestation Regulation,” Fairtrade-Advocacy.Org (blog), accessed December 8, 2023,

xv “Staff Working Document on the Impact Assessment – Part 1,” 29,

xvi Regulation (EU) 2023/1115 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 May 2023 on the making available on the Union market and the export from the Union of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation and repealing Regulation (EU) No 995/2010, para. 31.