Researchers have developed a new technique that identifies threats to various species caused by the global supply chains that fuel our consumption.
Daniel Moran, Ph.D., from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and his colleague Keiichiro Kanemoto, Ph.D., from Shinshu University in Japan, have created a series of world maps that show the species threat hotspots across the globe for individual countries.
Moran and Kanemoto were able to calculate the percentage of threat to 6,803 vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered marine and terrestrial animals as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and BirdLife International.
The researchers considered the threat to a species in one country due to consumption of goods in another when they calculated the percentage of threat.
For example, they found that consumption in the U.S. caused species threat hotspots to several regions including southeast Asia and Madagascar, Central Asia, Central America, the coasts of Mexico and southern Canada, as well as threats in southern Spain and Portugal.
According to Moran, making the connections between consumption and environmental impacts can help government entities, companies and individuals find ways to counteract them.
“Connecting observations of environmental problems to economic activity, that is the innovation here,” Moran said in a statement. “Once you connect the environmental impact to a supply chain, then many people along the supply chain, not only producers, can participate in cleaning up that supply chain.”
Moran said if the European Union (EU) wanted to look at its role in causing biodiversity losses and deforestation in Indonesia, it could look at the maps and see what kind of impacts EU consumers are having on the country and where those impacts are located.
“The EU could decide to adjust their research programs or environmental priorities to focus on certain hotspots in Southeast Asia,” Moran said. “Companies could also use these maps to find out where their environmental impact hotspots are, and make changes.”
The research was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.