A report, published in the scientific journal Nature, said that Germany’s import trade is the third most destructive in the world, after the US and Japan.
Carried out by an international team of researchers, the study found that the hunger for consumer goods has particularly hit ecosystems in developing countries – especially Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, and Indonesia. These countries are rich in the raw materials for consumer goods that the developed world consumes rapidly.
Several species are known to be under threat because the Central American forests where they live are increasingly being turned into coffee and cocoa plantations for export to Europe and the US.
“Our results show clearly that local biodiversity is being threatened across the world by markets and consumer demands,” wrote Barney Foran of Sydney University, one the scientists behind the study.
“Most industrialised countries leave a large part of their biodiversity footprint outside their own country, through their consumption of coffee, tea, sugar, textiles and other products,” he continued. As much as 44 percent of Germany’s biodiversity footprint, for instance, is outside its borders.
The researchers studied the trade routes of more than 15,000 consumer goods in 187 countries. They then compared the results with a list of the 25,000 most endangered species produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.