The research uses fine-scale data to map the global impact of international trade on the world’s forests, which act as vital carbon stores and hubs for biodiversity.
It finds that G7 countries and the emerging economies of China and India generally saw decreases in domestic deforestation between 2001 and 2015.
However, foreign deforestation linked with their imports and consumption patterns increased, the research says.
Dr Nguyen Hoang, study lead author and a senior researcher at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Japan, told The Independent: “While obtaining net forest gains domestically, many major economies have mostly expanded their non-domestic deforestation footprints in all forest biomes.”
The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, compares fine-scale forest loss data and patterns of international trade to map how different countries are contributing to deforestation through their imports and exports.
The scientists considered all types of forest in their analysis, from northern-latitude boreal forests to carbon-rich mangroves and rainforests.