12 April 2021
The destruction of natural habitat for cropland and pasture represents a major threat to global biodiversity. Despite widespread societal concern about biodiversity loss associated with food production, consumer access to quantitative estimates of the impact of crop production on the world's species has been very limited compared to assessments of other environmental variables such as greenhouse gas emissions or water use. Here, we present a consistent dataset of the biodiversity footprints of pasture and 175 crops at the global and national level. The data were generated by combining maps of the global distribution of agricultural areas in the year 2000 with spatially explicit estimates of the biodiversity loss associated with the conversion of natural habitat to farmland. Estimates were derived for three common alternative measures of biodiversity – species richness, threatened species richness, and range rarity – of the world's mammals, birds, and amphibians. Our dataset provides important quantitative information for food consumers and policy makers, allowing them to take evidence-based decisions to reduce the biodiversity footprint of global food production.