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Review of approaches to assess land use impacts on biodiversity in LCA
Life cycle assessment (LCA) was widely used to assess a range of environmental impacts that occur throughout the life cycle of products. Although many different environmental issues were commonly included in these studies (e.g. carbon footprint and water scarcity footprint) the impacts of land use on biodiversity have often been excluded due to reasons including a lack of widely accepted methods and data limitations. Land use was the main causes of loss of biodiversity so it is important that these impacts were included, especially in agricultural LCA studies where large areas of land are occupied.
This study reviews the current methods that can be used to include biodiversity impacts in LCA and the data required to apply these methods. Two methods have been recommended to assess the biodiversity impacts of livestock supply chains in Australia. These methods were described and applied within recently published studies: "Land use impact assessment of margarine" (Canals, Rigarlsford, and Sim 2013); and "Comparing direct land use impacts on biodiversity of conventional and organic milk—based on a Swedish case study" (Mueller, de Baan, and Koellner 2014). Both of the methods described in these papers follow the latest guidelines published by the UNEP-SETAC life cycle land use working group. These methods can be used to quantify the biodiversity impacts of different livestock production systems and identify hotspots which can be targeted in order to minimise biodiversity impacts.
This page was last updated on 25/07/2017
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