K309 Gustaf

Biodiversity threats embodied in global trade: Moving beyond species richness loss


Abhishek Chaudhary


The limited success of traditional conservation practices such as expanding protected areas signals a need for new, integrated approaches to halt biodiversity declines. In particular, biodiversity-benign production methods can be complemented by changing human or national consumption patterns such that the global demand for products most damaging to biodiversity is reduced. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a promising tool to quantify the land use impacts associated with everyday products but within LCA, most methods focus on loss of species richness only. In recent years, evolutionary history (also referred to as phylogenetic diversity or PD) has been argued to capture biodiversity better than simple measures of species richness. Here we combine countryside species-area relationship with species-specific evolutionary isolation scores of mammals, birds and amphibians to derive new characterization factors (CFs) providing evolutionary history lost per m2 of different human land use types in each of the 804 terrestrial ecoregions and 176 countries for use in LCA. To illustrate their application, we combine the new CFs with global crop yield maps and food trade databases to quantify evolutionary history loss embodied in both global consumption and bilateral food trade. For the three taxa combined, we project a total loss of 9472 million years (MY) of evolutionary history due to habitat loss caused by all human land uses globally. Agriculture is responsible for loss of 1579 MY; pasture 1990 MY, forestry 5381, and urbanization 522. Results show that 18% of total loss due to agriculture land use can be attributed to land use for export production. The United States, China, Japan and Germany are projected to inflict most damage abroad due to food imports while Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, India and Philippines are projected to incur highest evolutionary history loss due to land use for export production. We found that different hotspots of global biodiversity loss emerge depending upon which metric (species richness or evolutionary history) is considered. Our results and approach are useful in life cycle, footprinting and product sustainability assessments and can inform nations designing regional strategies to achieve the Aichi 2020 biodiversity targets.