Title: UNEP-SETAC guideline on global land use impact assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services in LCA
Authors: KOELLNER ThomasDE BAAN LauraBECK TabeaBRANDAO MIGUELCIVIT BarbaraMARGNI ManueleMILA I CANALS LlorencSAAD RosieSOUZA DANIELLE MAIAMUELLER-WENK Ruedi
Citation: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT vol. 18 no. 6 p. 1188-1202
Publisher: SPRINGER HEIDELBERG
Publication Year: 2013
JRC N°: JRC68275
ISSN: 0948-3349
URI: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11367-013-0579-z
http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC68275
DOI: 10.1007/s11367-013-0579-z
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: 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 impact assessment in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Results: Recommendations are given for the development of new characterization models and for which a series of key elements 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 characterisation factors (CFs) in an LCA study, data collection should be transparent with respect to the data input required from the land use inventory and the regeneration times. Indications on how generic CFs can be used for the background system as well as how spatial-based CFs can be calculated for the foreground system in a specific LCA study and how land use change is to be allocated should be detailed. Finally, it becomes necessary to justify the modelling period for which land use impacts of land transformation and occupation are calculated and how uncertainty is accounted for. Discussion The presented guideline is based on a number of assumptions: Discrete land use types are sufficient for an assessment of land use impacts; ecosystem quality remains constant over time of occupation; time and area of occupation are substitutable; transformation time is negligible; regeneration is linear and independent from land use history and landscape configuration; biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services are independent; the ecological impact is linearly increasing with the intervention; and there is no interaction between land use and other drivers such as climate change. These assumptions might influence the results of land use Life Cycle Impact Assessment and need to be critically reflected. Conclusions and recommendations In this and the other papers of the special issue, we presented the principles and recommendations for the calculation of land use impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services on a global scale. In the framework of LCA, they are mainly used for the assessment of land use impacts in the background system. The main areas for further development are the link to regional ecological models running in the foreground system, relative weighting of the ecosystem services midpoints and indirect land use.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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