Land use impacts on biodiversity in LCA: a global approach

Abstract

Purpose

Land use is a main driver of global biodiversity loss and its environmental relevance is widely recognized in research on life cycle assessment (LCA). The inherent spatial heterogeneity of biodiversity and its non-uniform response to land use requires a regionalized assessment, whereas many LCA applications with globally distributed value chains require a global scale. This paper presents a first approach to quantify land use impacts on biodiversity across different world regions and highlights uncertainties and research needs.

Methods

The study is based on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) land use assessment framework and focuses on occupation impacts, quantified as a biodiversity damage potential (BDP). Species richness of different land use types was compared to a (semi-)natural regional reference situation to calculate relative changes in species richness. Data on multiple species groups were derived from a global quantitative literature review and national biodiversity monitoring data from Switzerland. Differences across land use types, biogeographic regions (i.e., biomes), species groups and data source were statistically analyzed. For a data subset from the biome (sub-)tropical moist broadleaf forest, different species-based biodiversity indicators were calculated and the results compared.

Results and discussion

An overall negative land use impact was found for all analyzed land use types, but results varied considerably. Different land use impacts across biogeographic regions and taxonomic groups explained some of the variability. The choice of indicator also strongly influenced the results. Relative species richness was less sensitive to land use than indicators that considered similarity of species of the reference and the land use situation. Possible sources of uncertainty, such as choice of indicators and taxonomic groups, land use classification and regionalization are critically discussed and further improvements are suggested. Data on land use impacts were very unevenly distributed across the globe and considerable knowledge gaps on cause–effect chains remain.

Conclusions

The presented approach allows for a first rough quantification of land use impact on biodiversity in LCA on a global scale. As biodiversity is inherently heterogeneous and data availability is limited, uncertainty of the results is considerable. The presented characterization factors for BDP can approximate land use impacts on biodiversity in LCA studies that are not intended to directly support decision-making on land management practices. For such studies, more detailed and site-dependent assessments are required. To assess overall land use impacts, transformation impacts should additionally be quantified. Therefore, more accurate and regionalized data on regeneration times of ecosystems are needed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Achten WMJ, Mathijs E, Muys B (2008) Proposing a life cycle land use impact calculation methodology. In: 6th International Conference on LCA in the Agri-Food Sector, Zurich, Nov 12–14, 2008

  2. Alkemade R, van Oorschot M, Miles L, Nellemann C, Bakkenes M, ten Brink B (2009) GLOBIO3: a framework to investigate options for reducing global terrestrial biodiversity loss. Ecosystems 12(3):374–390

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Anand M, Krishnaswamy J, Kumar A, Bali A (2010) Sustaining biodiversity conservation in human-modified landscapes in the Western Ghats: remnant forests matter. Biol Conserv 143:2363–2374

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Arrhenius O (1921) Species and area. J Ecol 9(1):95–99

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Attwood SJ, Maron M, House APN, Zammit C (2008) Do arthropod assemblages display globally consistent responses to intensified agricultural land use and management? Glob Ecol Biogeogr 17(5):585–599

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baltisberger M (2009) Systematische Botanik. Einheimische Farn- und Samenpflanzen. 3 edn. vdf Hochschulverlag AG, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland

  7. BDM (2004) Biodiversity monitoring Switzerland. Indicator Z9: species diversity in habitats. Bundesamt für Umwelt, BAFU. http://www.biodiversitymonitoring.ch

  8. Beck J, Schwanghart W (2010) Comparing measures of species diversity from incomplete inventories: an update. Methods Ecol Evol 1(1):38–44

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Billeter R, Liira J, Bailey D, Bugter R, Arens P, Augenstein I, Aviron S, Baudry J, Bukacek R, Burel F, Cerny M, De Blust G, De Cock R, Diekotter T, Dietz H, Dirksen J, Dormann C, Durka W, Frenzel M, Hamersky R, Hendrickx F, Herzog F, Klotz S, Koolstra B, Lausch A, Le Coeur D, Maelfait JP, Opdam P, Roubalova M, Schermann A, Schermann N, Schmidt T, Schweiger O, Smulders MJM, Speelmans M, Simova P, Verboom J, van Wingerden WKRE, Zobel M, Edwards PJ (2008) Indicators for biodiversity in agricultural landscapes: a pan-European study. J Appl Ecol 45(1):141–150

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Blaum N, Seymour C, Rossmanith E, Schwager M, Jeltsch F (2009) Changes in arthropod diversity along a land use driven gradient of shrub cover in savanna rangelands: identification of suitable indicators. Biodivers Conserv 18(5):1187–1199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bond WJ, Parr CL (2010) Beyond the forest edge: ecology, diversity and conservation of the grassy biomes. Biol Conserv 143:2395–2404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Brandão M, Milà i Canals L (2012) Global characterisation factors to assess land use impacts on biotic production. Int J Life Cycle Assess (this issue)

  13. Brooks T, Mittermeier R, da Fonseca G, Gerlach J, Hoffmann M, Lamoreux J, Mittermeier C, Pilgrim J, Rodrigues A (2006) Global biodiversity conservation priorities. Science 313(5783):58–61

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. CBD (2010) Aichi biodiversity targets. Convention on Biological Diversity. http://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/. Accessed 26 October 2011

  15. Chiarucci A, Araujo MB, Decocq G, Beierkuhnlein C, Fernandez-Palacios JM (2010) The concept of potential natural vegetation: an epitaph? J Veg Sci 21(6):1172–1178

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Curran M, de Baan L, De Schryver A, van Zelm R, Hellweg S, Koellner T, Sonnemann G, Huijbregts MAJ (2011) Toward meaningful end points of biodiversity in life cycle assessment. Environ Sci Technol 45(1):70–79

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. De Schryver AM, Goedkoop MJ, Leuven RSEW, Huijbregts MAJ (2010) Uncertainties in the application of the species area relationship for characterisation factors of land occupation in life cycle assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(7):682–691

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dengler J (2009) Which function describes the species–area relationship best? A review and empirical evaluation. J Biogeogr 36(4):728–744

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Fisher R, Corbet A, Williams C (1943) The relation between the number of species and the number of individuals in a random sample of an animal population. J Anim Ecol 12(1):42–58

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gardner TA, Barlow J, Chazdon R, Ewers RM, Harvey CA, Peres CA, Sodhi NS (2009) Prospects for tropical forest biodiversity in a human modified world. Ecol Lett 12(6):561–582

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gardner T, Barlow J, Sodhi N, Peres C (2010) A multi-region assessment of tropical forest biodiversity in a human-modified world. Biol Conserv 143:2293–2300

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Geyer R, Lindner JP, Stoms DM, Davis FW, Wittstock B (2010) Coupling GIS and LCA for biodiversity assessments of land use: Part 2: impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(7):692–703

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Goedkoop M, Spriensma R (1999) The Eco-indicator 99. A damage oriented method for life cycle impact assessment. Methodology Report. PRé Consultants, Amersfoort

  24. Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Huijbregts MAJ, De Schryver A, Struijs J, van Zelm R (2008) ReCiPe 2008. A life cycle impact assessment method which comprises harmonised category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level; first edition Report I. Den Haag

  25. Gurevitch J, Hedges L (1999) Statistical issues in ecological meta-analyses. Ecology 80(4):1142–1149

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hayek L-AC, Buzas MA (2010) Surveying natural populations. Quantitative tools for assessing biodiversity, 2nd edn. Columbia University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  27. Heywood VH, Watson RT (1995) Global biodiversity assessment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  28. Holling CS (2001) Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological, and social systems. Ecosystems 4(5):390–405

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kessler M, Abrahamczyk S, Bos M, Buchori D, Putra DD, Gradstein SR, Hoehn P, Kluge J, Orend F, Pitopang R, Saleh S, Schulze CH, Sporn SG, Steffan-Dewenter I, Tjitrosoedirdjo S, Tscharntke T (2009) Alpha and beta diversity of plants and animals along a tropical land-use gradient. Ecol Appl 19(8):2142–2156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kier G, Mutke J, Dinerstein E, Ricketts T, Kuper W, Kreft H, Barthlott W (2005) Global patterns of plant diversity and floristic knowledge. J Biogeogr 32(7):1107–1116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Koellner T (2000) Species-pool effect potentials (SPEP) as a yardstick to evaluate land-use impacts on biodiversity. J Clean Prod 8:293–311

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Koellner T, Scholz RW (2007) Assessment of land use impacts on the natural environment. Part 1: an analytical framework for pure land occupation and land use change. Int J Life Cycle Assess 12(1):16–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Koellner T, Scholz RW (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(1):32–48

    Google Scholar 

  34. Koellner T, Hersperger A, Wohlgemuth T (2004) Rarefaction method for assessing plant species diversity on a regional scale. Ecography 27:532–544

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Koellner T, de Baan L, Beck T, Brandão M, Civit B, Goedkoop MJ, Margni M, Milà i Canals L, Müller-Wenk R, Weidema B, Wittstock B (2012a) Principles for life cycle inventories of land use on a global scale. Int J Life Cycle Assess (this issue)

  36. Koellner T, de Baan L, Beck T, Brandão M, Civit B, Margni M, Milà i Canals L, Saad R, de Souza DM, Müller-Wenk R (2012b) UNEP-SETAC guideline on global land use impact assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services in LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess (this issue)

  37. Kyläkorpi K, Rydgren B, Ellegård A, Miliander S (2005) The Biotope Method 2005: a method to assess the impact of land use on biodiversity. Vattenfall, Sweden

    Google Scholar 

  38. Lindeijer E (2000a) Biodiversity and life support impacts of land use in LCA. J Clean Prod 8:313–319

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Lindeijer E (2000b) Review of land use impact methodologies. J Clean Prod 8:273–281

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Michelsen O (2008) Assessment of land use impact on biodiversity. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13(1):22–31

    Google Scholar 

  41. Michelsen O (2011) Impacts on biodiversity from land use and land use changes—did we forget the first fundamental question? In: ISIE Conference, University of California, Berkeley, June 7–10

  42. Milà i Canals L, Rigarlsford G, Sim S (2012) Land use impact assessment of margarine. Int J Life Cycle Assess (this issue)

  43. Milà i Canals L, Bauer C, Depestele J, Dubreuil A, Freiermuth Knuchel R, Gaillard G, Michelsen O, Müller-Wenk R, Rydgren B (2007) Key elements in a framework for land use impact assessment within LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 12(1):5–15

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Millennnium Ecosystem Assessment. Ecosystems and human well-being: biodiversity synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  45. Müller-Wenk R (1998) Land use—the main threat to species, how to include land use in LCA. IWÖ—Diskussionsbeitrag Nr. 64. Institut für Wirtschaft und Ökologie, Universität St. Gallen, St. Gallen

  46. Müller-Wenk R, Brandão M (2010) Climatic impact of land use in LCA—carbon transfers between vegetation/soil and air. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(2):172–182

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Noss R (1990) Indicators for monitoring biodiversity—a hierarchical approach. Conserv Biol 4(4):355–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Olson D, Dinerstein E, Wikramanayake E, Burgess N, Powell G, Underwood E, D’Amico J, Itoua I, Strand H, Morrison J, Loucks C, Allnutt T, Ricketts T, Kura Y, Lamoreux J, Wettengel W, Hedao P, Kassem K (2001) Terrestrial ecoregions of the worlds: a new map of life on Earth. BioScience 51(11):933–938

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Penman TD, Law BS, Ximenes F (2010) A proposal for accounting for biodiversity in life cycle assessment. Biodivers Conserv 19(11):3245–3254

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Pereira H, Leadley P, Proença V, Alkemade R, Scharlemann JPW, Fernandez-Manjarrés JF, Araújo MB, Balvanera P, Biggs R, Cheung WWL, Chini L, Cooper HD, Gilman EL, Guénette S, Hurtt GC, Huntington HP, Mace GM, Oberdorff T, Revenga C, Rodrigues P, Scholes RJ, Sumaila UR, Walpole M (2010) Scenarios for global biodiversity in the 21st century. Science 330(6010):1496–1501

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  51. 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 45:5761–5768

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  52. Purvis A, Hector A (2000) Getting the measure of biodiversity. Nature 405(6783):212–219

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  53. R Development Core Team (2011) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna

    Google Scholar 

  54. Ramankutty N, Foley JA (1999) Estimating historical changes in global land cover: croplands from 1700 to 1992. Glob Biogeochem Cycle 13(4):997–1027

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  55. Rodrigues ASL, Brooks TM (2007) Shortcuts for biodiversity conservation planning: the effectiveness of surrogates. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 38:713–737

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Rosenzweig ML (1995) Species diversity in space and time. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  57. Saad R, Margni M, Koellner T, Wittstock B, Deschênes L (2011) Assessment of land use impacts on soil ecological functions: development of spatially differentiated characterization factors within a Canadian context. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:198–211

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Sala O, Chapin F, Armesto J, Berlow E, Bloomfield J, Dirzo R, Huber-Sanwald E, Huenneke L, Jackson R, Kinzig A, Leemans R, Lodge D, Mooney H, Oesterheld M, Poff N, Sykes M, Walker B, Walker M, Wall D (2000) Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287(5459):1770–1774

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  59. Schenck R (2001) Land use and biodiversity indicators for life cycle impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 6(2):114–117

    Google Scholar 

  60. Scherber C, Eisenhauer N, Weisser WW, Schmid B, Voigt W, Fischer M, Schulze E-D, Roscher C, Weigelt A, Allan E, Beßler H, Bonkowski M, Buchmann N, Buscot F, Clement LW, Ebeling A, Engels C, Halle S, Kertscher I, Klein A-M, Koller R, Konig S, Kowalski E, Kummer V, Kuu A, Lange M, Lauterbach D, Middelhoff C, Migunova VD, Milcu A, Muller R, Partsch S, Petermann JS, Renker C, Rottstock T, Sabais A, Scheu S, Schumacher J, Temperton VM, Tscharntke T (2010) Bottom-up effects of plant diversity on multitrophic interactions in a biodiversity experiment. Nature 468:553–556

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  61. Schmidt J (2008) Development of LCIA characterisation factors for land use impacts on biodiversity. J Clean Prod 16:1929–1942

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Scholz RW (2011) Environmental literacy in science and society. From knowledge to decisions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  63. Shannon CE (1948) A mathematical theory of communication. Bell System Tech J 27:379–423

    Google Scholar 

  64. SOER Synthesis (2010) The European environment—state and outlook 2010: synthesis. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen

    Google Scholar 

  65. Sørensen T (1948) A method of establishing groups of equal amplitude in plant sociology based on similarity of species content. K Dan Vidensk Selsk Biol Skr 5:1–34

    Google Scholar 

  66. Stanners D, Philippe B (1995) Europe’s environment—the Dobris assessment. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen

    Google Scholar 

  67. van der Voet E (2001) Land use in LCA. CML-SSP Working Paper 02.002, Leiden

  68. Vandewalle M, de Bello F, Berg MP, Bolger T, Doledec S, Dubs F, Feld CK, Harrington R, Harrison PA, Lavorel S, da Silva PM, Moretti M, Niemela J, Santos P, Sattler T, Sousa JP, Sykes MT, Vanbergen AJ, Woodcock BA (2010) Functional traits as indicators of biodiversity response to land use changes across ecosystems and organisms. Biodivers Conserv 19(10):2921–2947

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Vogtländer J, Lindeijer E, Witte J, Hendriks C (2004) Characterizing the change of land-use based on flora: application for EIA and LCA. J Clean Prod 12:47–57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Wagendorp T, Gulinck H, Coppin P, Muys B (2000) Land use impact evaluation in life cycle assessment based on ecosystem thermodynamics. Energy 31:112–125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Weidema B, Lindeijer E (2001) Physical impacts of land use in product life cycle assessment. Final report of the EURENVIRON-LCAGAPS sub-project on land use. Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Management, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby

  72. Wolters V, Bengtsson J, Zaitsev AS (2006) Relationship among the species richness of different taxa. Ecology 87(8):1886–1895

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Biodiversity Monitoring Switzerland (BDM) and the team of GLOBIO for providing data. The research was funded by ETH Research Grant CH1-0308-3 and by the project “Life Cycle Impact Assessment Methods for Improved Sustainability Characterisation of Technologies” (LC-IMPACT), Grant Agreement No. 243827, funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. We appreciate helpful comments by M. Curran, S. Hellweg, J.P. Lindner, R. Müller-Wenk, A. Spörri, and two anonymous reviewers.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Laura de Baan.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Roland Geyer

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

ESM 1

PDF 1.02 mb

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

de Baan, L., Alkemade, R. & Koellner, T. Land use impacts on biodiversity in LCA: a global approach. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18, 1216–1230 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-012-0412-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Global characterization factors
  • Land use
  • LCIA
  • Regionalization