A jaguar, one of many species of wildlife threatened across South America by agriculture and
habitat loss.
Licensing information: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

By Amy Molotoks, Jonathan Green, Vivian Ribeiro, Yunxia Wang, and Christopher David West.

Read the full paper here.

In recent decades, global trade and demand for food products produced overseas has drastically increased, causing a displacement of impacts from agricultural production. At the same time, we are facing a worldwide crisis of human driven environmental degradation and species loss. However only a small number of products, for example soy, cause a disproportionately large impact on the environment. Several pieces of legislation are currently being put in place to reduce environmental impacts of international supply chains, however they tend to focus only on deforestation which is used to also represent loss of wildlife in producer countries. This could lead to other important impacts on species and their habitats being overlooked.

We examine risks in the soy supply chain for soy produced in three countries in South America; Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, firstly for forest loss and secondly for four indicators of risk to species. These indicators each represent different, important aspects of wildlife conservation, for example, risk of extinction and how rare species are. The species and forest loss indicators are linked to a model for soy supply chains for the largest importers; the EU, China and Argentina.

We find few similarities between patterns of forest loss and species indicators. Furthermore, the four species indicators also show differences. This suggests that although forest loss is an important indicator, to target species related impacts it is not enough alone. More work is also needed to understand the interactions between more complex indicators and what this means for traders of products which have large environmental impacts. This is also important for development of future legislation in terms of what indicators need to be included.