Ecosystem services footprint of international trade: Economic value of ecosystem services lost due to crop production

Vačkářová, D., Medková, H., Krpec, P., Weinzettel, J. (2023) Ecosystem Services, vol. 64, December 2023, 101560

Agricultural activities utilize provisioning ecosystem services while degrading nature’s contributions to people of natural ecosystems. These impacts are partly driven by international trade and consumption abroad. The objective of this Communication is to introduce the concept of the ecosystem services footprint and provide a pilot calculation of the economic value of ecosystem services lost due to land conversion and production of crops, which are either directly traded internationally or enter supply chains of international trade and are induced by final demand abroad. We report the ecosystem services loss footprint for 49 countries and world regions based on a multi-regional input–output analysis. We found that ecosystem services loss due to crop production for international trade is valued at $5.1 trillion per year. Consumption in China, United States and Middle East induce the highest absolute loss of value of ecosystem services. The main exporters include Asia and Pacific, Indonesia and Africa. The largest trade flow was identified between the Asia and Pacific region and Western Europe with an embodied value of ecosystem services loss of $397 billion per year. Bringing to light the monetary value of ecosystem services lost due to international trade can stimulate and contribute to the design of strategies to reduce the impact of consumption and thus to lightening our footprint on natural ecosystems.


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