Paris, France — The hidden danger to wildlife posed by imported consumer goods – an espresso coffee in Beijing, a tofu salad in Chicago – can now be pinpointed and measured, researchers said Wednesday.
Crunching huge amounts of data, they unveiled a global “threat map” detailing the impact on endangered species of exports to the United States, China, Japan, and the European Union.
To procure beans for that coffee or tofu, for example, forests have been cleared in Sumatra, Indonesia, and in Brazil’s Mato Grosso, adding incrementally to the habitat loss driving dozens of animals and plants towards extinction.
The global supply chain of manufactured goods – from iPhones to Ikea furniture – can also contribute to wildlife decline.
Focusing on nearly 7,000 land and marine species classified as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the researchers traced “hotspots” of biodiversity loss to hundreds of commodities and their distant markets.
In earlier work, they concluded that 30 percent of worldwide species threats are due to international trade.
The new study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, reveals which nations’ consumers drive species loss most.
It also suggests where conservation efforts should be focused.
Currently, 90 percent of the more than $6 billion (5.75 billion euros) mobilized each year for species conservation is spent within rich nations where money is raised.
“Yet these countries are rarely where threat hotspots lie,” said senior author Keiichiro Kanemoto, a professor at Shinshu University in Matsumoto, Japan.