Linking country level food supply to global land and water use and biodiversity impacts: The case of Finland

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Jan 1:575:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.002. Epub 2016 Oct 8.


The agricultural products consumed in Finland are increasingly grown on foreign farms. We analyze the Finnish imports of food and feed crops from 1986 to 2011 by products and by their geographic origin drawing a link to environmental impacts. The share of foreign crops consumed in Finland nearly doubled in the study period. The imports increased especially with commodities that could also be produced domestically. While the production of food increasingly shifted abroad, also the exports from Finland increased. >90% of the blue water of the Finnish crop supply came from foreign water resources. We map the results of land and water use together with their impacts on global biodiversity, and show that most of the land and water use related biodiversity impacts (>93%) associated with the Finnish food consumption are related to the imports and therefore taken place outside the Finnish borders. The use of multiple environmental indicators can help identifying products and spatial hotspots associated with the most severe environmental impacts of the Finnish crop imports contributing to a more holistic decision-making and the promoting of sustainable food consumption both domestically and globally.

Keywords: Biodiversity impacts; Blue water consumption; Food supply; International trade; Land use.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Biodiversity*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Finland
  • Food Supply*
  • Water Supply*