Monday, 9 January 2017

Map links consumer goods to wildlife damage

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 say.

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 7000 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 per cent of worldwide species threats are due to international trade.

The new study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution this week, reveals which nations' consumers drive species loss most.

It also suggests where conservation efforts should be focused.

Currently, 90 per cent of the more than US$6 billion ($8.5b) mobilised each year for species conservation is spent within rich nations where money is raised.

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