Every year, the world loses around 10 million hectares of forest, while deforestation alone accounts for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. Europe is leading the way in deforestation legislation with their European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) that went into effect in June of 2023, with large companies needing to comply by December 2024. This groundbreaking legislation will require companies to provide statements affirming that goods sold or produced in the EU were not grown on land deforested after December 30, 2020. 

The EUDR is propelling innovation and collaboration as companies explore how to comply. Google has made some significant progress towards supporting efforts to achieve deforestation-free supply chains and works with customers and partners to continue well into 2024 to ensure solutions are in place to meet the deadline. 

Google has a history of investing in efforts to combat illegal deforestation, including the development of Earth Engine which started from a partnership to prevent deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Projects like Ground and Collect Earth are working to address the challenges of field data collection and visual classification. And we are also a founding partner in the Forest Data Partnership, a consortium of industry, governmental, and institutional leaders that aims to halt and reverse forest loss from commodity production. 

At this year’s Geo for Good Summit, the annual gathering for the global community of Earth Engine scientists, academia, NGOs, and partners, we brought together panels of leading experts to discuss the EUDR and the role of geospatial data and Transparent supply chains: commodity mapping in Earth Engine.  

Google works closely with our partners and customers to develop sustainability solutions. Determined to break the link between palm oil and deforestation, Unilever worked with Google and NGIS, a Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability partner, to track and trace their supply chain — this capability is available in TraceMark, a first-mile sustainable sourcing solution that was built using Google Cloud products Earth EngineBigQuery, and Analytics Hub. It addresses a wide variety of EUDR-impacted commodities including palm, coffee, cocoa, soy, and paper.

NGIS was one of three leading technology companies selected by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to deliver the next-generation RSPO Certification, Trade And Traceability (CTTS) Platform. TraceMark will be used to deliver the first-mile monitoring requirements for CTSS, including Land Use Change Analysis, Risk Assessment, Deforestation and Fire Monitoring.

Last month, the Forest Data Partnership engaged with palm oil suppliers, producers, and companies at the Annual Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil, where our initial palm mask, developed with the Partnership, was presented –  demonstrating how cross-sector engagement is vital to improve data. 

We also saw some early pilots of Ground this year – an open-source experimental platform, developed in partnership with FAO and SERVIR, that allows organizations to create easy-to-understand data collection tasks on the web and send those tasks to non-technical users in the field through a purpose-built Android application. Further pilots are planned for 2024.

To further support EUDR compliance efforts, the Joint Research Centre released the 2020 global map of forest cover in December 2023. The map provides a spatially explicit representation of forest presence and absence for 2020 at 10m spatial resolution. While companies will still need to carry out due diligence to ensure full compliance, the map will be a helpful source and starting point to understand where there’s potential deforestation risk in their supply chain. We are excited to announce that this dataset is available in the Earth Engine Data Catalog; you can read more about this announcement.

To make a significant impact in regard to deforestation, we need to continue to develop solutions with key industry players, like our peers at the Consumer Goods Forum. Google is excited to be a part of this collective effort, and we look forward to further strides in helping our customers combat deforestation and become EUDR compliant in 2024.

If you’re interested in using Google Earth Engine for your business’s sustainability efforts, reach out to your Google Cloud representative, or you can get started here.