Consumption-Based Conservation Targeting: Linking Biodiversity Loss to Upstream Demand through a Global Wildlife Footprint

Justin Kitzes, Eric Berlow, Erin Conlisk, Karlheinz Erb, Katsunori Iha, Neo Martinez, Erica A. Newman, Christoph Plutzar, Adam B. Smith, John Harte

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Although most conservation efforts address the direct, local causes of biodiversity loss, effective long-term conservation will require complementary efforts to reduce the upstream economic pressures, such as demands for food and forest products, which ultimately drive these downstream losses. Here, we present a wildlife footprint analysis that links global losses of wild birds to consumer purchases across 57 economic sectors in 129 regions. The United States, India, China, and Brazil have the largest regional wildlife footprints, while per-person footprints are highest in Mongolia, Australia, Botswana, and the United Arab Emirates. A US$100 purchase of bovine meat or rice products occupies approximately 0.1 km2 of wild bird ranges, displacing 1–2 individual birds, for 1 year. Globally significant importer regions, including Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France, have large footprints that drive wildlife losses elsewhere in the world and represent important targets for consumption-focused conservation attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-538
Number of pages8
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Biodiversity
  • GIS
  • consumption
  • economics
  • footprint
  • human ecology
  • input output
  • land use
  • life cycle
  • spatial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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