Advertisement

Biodiversity impacts from water consumption on a global scale for use in life cycle assessment

  • Francesca Verones
  • Stephan Pfister
  • Rosalie van Zelm
  • Stefanie Hellweg
LCIA OF IMPACTS ON HUMAN HEALTH AND ECOSYSTEMS

Abstract

Purpose

Agriculture is a major water user worldwide, potentially depriving many ecosystems of water. Comprehensive global impact assessment methodologies are therefore required to assess impacts from water consumption on biodiversity. Since scarcity of water, as well as species richness, varies greatly between different world regions, a spatially differentiated approach is needed. Therefore, our aim is to enhance a previously published methodology in terms of spatial and species coverage.

Methods

We developed characterization factors for lifecycle impact assessment (LCIA) targeting biodiversity loss of various animal taxa (i.e., birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians) in wetlands. Data was collected for more than 22,000 wetlands worldwide, distinguishing between surface water- and groundwater-fed wetlands. Additionally, we account for a loss of vascular plant species in terrestrial ecosystems, based on precipitation. The characterization factors are expressed as global fractions of potential species extinctions (PDF) per cubic meter of water consumed annually and are developed with a spatial resolution of 0.05 arc degrees. Based on the geographic range of species, as well as their current threat level, as indicated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), we developed a vulnerability indicator that is included in the characterization factor.

Results and discussion

Characterization factors have maximal values in the order of magnitude of 10−11 PDF·year/m3 for animal taxa combined and 10−12 PDF·year/m3 for vascular plants. The application of the developed factors for global cultivation of wheat, maize, cotton, and rice highlights that the amount of water consumption alone is not sufficient to indicate the places of largest impacts but that species richness and vulnerability of species are indeed important factors to consider. Largest impacts are calculated for vascular plants in Madagascar, for maize, and for animal taxa; in Australia and the USA for surface water consumption (cotton); and in Algeria and Tunisia for groundwater consumption (cotton).

Conclusions

We developed a spatially differentiated approach to account for impacts from water consumption on a global level. We demonstrated its functionality with an application to a global case study of four different crops.

Keywords

Animal taxa Biodiversity Life cycle impact assessment Spatially differentiated Vascular plants Water consumption Wetlands 

Supplementary material

11367_2016_1236_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.8 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 2894 kb)
11367_2016_1236_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (35 kb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 34 kb)

References

  1. BirdLife International and Nature Serve (2012) Bird species distribution maps of the world. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK and NatureServe, Arlington, USAGoogle Scholar
  2. Döll P, Hoffmann-Dobrev H, Portmann F, Siebert S, Eicker A, Rodell M, Strassberg G, Scanlon B (2012) Impact of water withdrawals from groundwater and surface water on continental water storage variations. J Geodyn 59-60:143–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. ecoinvent. (2016) The ecoinvent database. http://www.ecoinvent.org/database/database.html. Accessed 01 Sept 2016Google Scholar
  4. ESRI (2013) ArcGIS Desktop10.2. http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis. Accessed 14 Aug 2014Google Scholar
  5. ESRI (2014) "World Countries. Esri Data& Maps. http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=3864c63872d84aec91933618e3815dd2. Accessed 14 Jan 2014
  6. FAOSTAT (2014) Commodities by region. http://faostat3.fao.org/faostat-gateway/go/to/browse/rankings/commodities_by_regions/E. Accessed 08 April 2014Google Scholar
  7. Finlayson C, Davisdson N (1999) Global review of wetland resources and priorities for wetland inventories: summary report, wetlands international, the Netherlands and environmental research Institute of the Supervising. Scientist, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  8. Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Huijbregts MAJ, De Schryver A, Struijs J, van Zelm R (2009) ReCiPe 2008: A life cycle impact assessment method which comprises harmonised category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level; First edition Report I. Characterisation. Den Haag, The Netherlands: VROM.Google Scholar
  9. Haberl H, Erb KH, Krausmann F, Gaube V, Bondeau A, Plutzar C, Gingrich S, Lucht W, Fischer-Kowalski M (2007) Quantifying and mapping the human appropriation of net primary production in earth’s terrestrial ecosystems. PNAS 104(31):12942–12947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ISO (2006) Environmental management—life cycle assessment—principles and framework. International standard ISO 14040. International Organisation for Standardisation, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  11. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) (2010) New study shows over one fifth of the world’s plants are under threat of extinction http://www.iucnredlist.org/news/srli-plants-press-release. Accessed 15 July 2014
  12. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) (2013) Spatial data download from http://www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/spatial-data. Accessed 03 Oct 2013
  13. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) (2014) IUCN red list of threatened species. Version 2013.2. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed 09 April 2014
  14. Kier G, Kreft H, Lee TM, Jetz W, Ibisch PL, Nowicki C, Mutke J, Barthlott W (2009) A global assessment of endemism and species richness across island and mainland regions. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106(23):9322–9327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Koellner T, Scholz WR (2008) Assessment of land use impacts on the natural environment. Part 2: generic characterization factors for local species diversity in central europe. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13:32–48Google Scholar
  16. Kreft H, Jetz W (2007) Global patterns and determinants of vascular plant diversity. PNAS 104(14):5925–5930CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lambert A (2003) Economic valuation of wetlands: an important component of wetland management strategies at the river basin scale. http://www.conservationfinance.org/guide/guide/images/18_lambe.pdf. Accessed 24 May 2012
  18. Lehner B, Döll P (2004) Development and validation of a global database of lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. J Hydrol 296(1–4):1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. MathWorks (2013) Matlab Version 2013b. www.mathworks.com. Accessed 01 Oct 2013Google Scholar
  20. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being: wetlands and water. Synthesis. http://www.millenniumassessment.org/documents/document.358.aspx.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2011
  21. Pfister S, Bayer P (2014) Monthly water stress: spatially and temporally explicit consumptive water footprint of global crop production. J Clean Prod 73:52–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pfister S, Bayer P, Koehler A, Hellweg S (2011) Environmental impacts of water use in global crop production: hotspots and trade-offs with land use. Environ Sci Technol 45(13):5761–5768CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pfister S, Curran M, Koehler A, Hellweg S (2010) Trade-offs between land and water use: regionalized impacts of energy crops. 7th International Conference on LCA in the Agri-Food Sector, Bari, Italy. https://www1.ethz.ch/ifu/ESD/downloads/EI99plus/LCAfood2010_pfister.pdf. Accessed 08 Sept 2014Google Scholar
  24. Pfister S, Koehler A, Hellweg S (2009) Assessing the environmental impacts of freshwater consumption in LCA. Environ Sci Technol 43(11):4098–4104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Purvis A, Cardillo M, Grenyer R, Collen B (2005) Correlates of extinction risk: phylogeny, biology, threat and scale. In: Purvis A, Gittleman JL, Brooks T (eds) Phylogeny and conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ramsar Convention (1994) Convention on wetlands of international importance especially as waterfowl habitat. The Convention on Wetlands text, as amended in 1982 and 1987. Paris, Director, Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=15398amp;URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html. Accessed 08 Sept 2014Google Scholar
  27. Ridoutt B, Poulton P (2009) SAI platform Australia water footprint pilot project: wheat, barley and oats grown in the Australian state of new South Wales. CSIRO, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  28. Russi D, tenBrink P, Farmer A, Badura T, Coates D, Förster J, Kumar R, Davidson N (2013) The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity for water and wetlands. IEEP, London and Brussels; Ramsar Secretariat, GlandGoogle Scholar
  29. Schmidt J (2008) Development of LCIA characterisation factors for land use impacts on biodiversity. J Clean Prod 16:1929–1942CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Verones F, Hellweg S, Azevedo LB, Chaudhary A, Cosme N, Fantke P, Goedkoop M, Hauschild MZ, Laurent A, Mutel CL, Pfister S, Ponsioen T, Steinmann Z, Van Zelm R, Verones F, Vieira M, Huijbregts MAJ (2016) LC-IMPACT version 0.5—a spatially differentiated life cycle impact assessment approach. http://www.lc-impact.eu/. Accessed 19 July 2016
  31. Verones F, Huijbregts MAJ, Chaudhary A, De Baan L, Koellner T, Hellweg S (2015) Harmonizing the assessment of biodiversity effects from land and water use within LCA. Environ Sci Technol 49(6):3584–3592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Verones F, Pfister S, Hellweg S (2013a) Quantifying area changes of internationally important wetlands due to water consumption in LCA. Environ Sci Technol 47(17):9799–9807CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Verones F, Saner D, Pfister S, Baisero D, Rondinini C, Hellweg S (2013b) Effects of consumptive water use on wetlands of international importance. Environ Sci Technol 47(21):12248–12257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. World Water Assessment Programme (2009) The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: water in a changing world. Paris: UNESCO and London:EarthscanGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Verones
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephan Pfister
    • 3
  • Rosalie van Zelm
    • 2
  • Stefanie Hellweg
    • 3
  1. 1.Industrial Ecology Programme, Department of Energy and Process EngineeringTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of Environmental ScienceInstitute for Water and Wetland ResearchNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.ETH ZurichInstitute of Environmental EngineeringZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations