Remote Environmental Responsibility

The biodiversity footprint caused by the production of Brazilian soybean for Austria

In Arbeit – Mai 2019

SDG 15

Masterarbeit – Orlane Millet



In a business as usual scenario, the world population is projected to double by 2100, leading to an increase of the global food demand of 70% by 2050. Global meat consumption steadily increases along with the demand for soy as rich source of protein feed. Soy currently accounts for half of the European imported deforestation from agricultural and livestock products, and 21% of it coming from Brazil. This causes severe environmental spillover effects that affect ecosystems, accelerate climate change and ultimately lead to biodiversity loss. This paper addresses the issue of remote environmental responsibility by assessing the biodiversity footprint (BF) caused by Austrian remote production of soybean in Brazil in 2017. To do so, we apply characterisation factors (CFs) (potential species loss per m²) to the land used in Brazil to produce soybean for Austria. The CFs enable to assess the BF of land use according to its intensity (minimal, light or intense), the taxa (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and plants), and the ecoregions the area belongs to. The CFs were provided by Chaudhary and Brooks (2018) and calculated based on a countryside species-area relationship (SAR) model combined with a vulnerability score of species group. This method was recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry life cycle (UNEP-SETAC) initiative. To identify the areas used to produce soybean for Austria in 2017, we first used national statistics databases such as Statistik Austria and the UN Comtrade to acquire data on the amount of soy imported by Austria and the countries of origin.
From these data we calculated the shares of the countries from where Austria imported soy in 2017; the largest ones being Brazil (25,3%), Argentina (19,7%), and the USA (13.9%). Based on a database provided by Trase, we obtained the amount of soybean produced for Austria and the area needed for this production per municipality in Brazil. We then used GIS to connect these municipalities with the ecoregions they belong to. Our final results show the ecoregions and municipalities of Brazil whose biodiversity was the most affected by Austrian soybean production in 2017. The ecoregion with the highest BF is Alto Parana Atlantic forests (5.30822E-09), closely followed by Araucaria moist forests (5.09463E-09) and Cerrado (2.452E-09). The municipalities with the highest BF are Toledo (9.01E-10), Assis Chateaubriand (8.35E-10), Formosa do Rio Preto (7.18E-10) and Campo Mourão (6.91E-10). This study intends to inform stakeholders and decision makers of the need to reduce biodiversity impact of Austria in Brazil, and promote the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 15, 13 and 2, that is hampered by biodiversity loss.

SDG Einbindung und erwünschte Zusammenarbeit

Erwünschte Zusammenarbeit: SDG 2 und SDG 13

Fakten zur Abschlussarbeit

Universität: Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Betreuer: Georg Gratzer
Beginn: Mai 2019
Kontakt: Orlane Millet

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