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UNEP-SETAC guideline on global land use impact assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services in LCA

Thomas Koellner, Laura de Baan, Tabea Beck, Miguel Brandão, Barbara Civit, Manuele Margni, Llorenç Milà i Canals, Rosie Saad, Danielle Maia de Souza, Ruedi Müller-Wenk

Article (2013)

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Purpose As a consequence of the multi-functionality of land,the impact assessment of land use in Life Cycle Impact Assessment requires the modelling of several impact pathways covering biodiversity and ecosystem services. To provide consistency amongst these separate impact pathways, general principles for their modelling are provided in this paper. These are refinements to the principles that have already been proposed in publications by the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. In particular, this paper addresses the calculation of land use interventions and land use impacts, the issue of impact reversibility, the spatial and temporal distribution of such impacts and the assessment of absolute or relative ecosystem quality changes. Based on this, we propose a guideline to build methods for land use impactassessment in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
Results Recommendations are given for the development of new characterization models and for which a series of keyelements should explicitly be stated, such as the modelled land use impact pathways, the land use/cover typology covered, the level of biogeographical differentiation used for the characterization factors, the reference land use situation used and if relative or absolute quality changes are used to calculate land use impacts. Moreover, for an application of the characterisationfactors (CFs) in an LCA study, data collection should betransparent with respect to the data input required from theland use inventory and the regeneration times. Indications onhow generic CFs can be used for the background system aswell as how spatial-based CFs can be calculated for theforeground system in a specific LCA study and how landuse change is to be allocated should be detailed. Finally, itbecomes necessary to justify the modelling period for whichland use impacts of land transformation and occupation arecalculated and how uncertainty is accounted for.Discussion The presented guideline is based on a number ofassumptions: Discrete land use types are sufficient for anassessment of land use impacts; ecosystem quality remainsconstant over time of occupation; time and area of occupationare substitutable; transformation time is negligible; regenerationis linear and independent from land use history andlandscape configuration; biodiversity and multiple ecosystemservices are independent; the ecological impact is linearlyincreasing with the intervention; and there is no interactionbetween land use and other drivers such as climate change.These assumptions might influence the results of land use LifeCycle Impact Assessment and need to be critically reflected.Conclusions and recommendations In this and the otherpapers of the special issue, we presented the principles andrecommendations for the calculation of land use impacts onbiodiversity and ecosystem services on a global scale. In theframework of LCA, they are mainly used for the assessmentof land use impacts in the background system. The main areasfor further development are the link to regional ecologicalmodels running in the foreground system, relative weightingof the ecosystem services midpoints and indirect land use.

Uncontrolled Keywords

Biodiversity; Ecological functions; Ecosystem services; Life cycle assessment; Land use

Subjects: 1500 Environmental engineering > 1500 Environmental engineering
Department: Department of Chemical Engineering
Research Center: CIRAIG - International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services
Funders: UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative
PolyPublie URL: https://publications.polymtl.ca/4975/
Journal Title: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (vol. 18, no. 6)
Publisher: Springer Nature
DOI: 10.1007/s11367-013-0579-z
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-013-0579-z
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2022 11:37
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 13:51
Cite in APA 7: Koellner, T., de Baan, L., Beck, T., Brandão, M., Civit, B., Margni, M., i Canals, L. M., Saad, R., de Souza, D. M., & Müller-Wenk, R. (2013). UNEP-SETAC guideline on global land use impact assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services in LCA. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18(6), 1188-1202. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-013-0579-z


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