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Valuing Biodiversity in Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Lindner, Jan Paul; Fehrenbach, Horst; Winter, Lisa; Bischoff, Mascha; Bloemer, Judith; Knuepffer, Eva

In this article, the authors propose an impact assessment method for life cycle assessment (LCA) that adheres to established LCA principles for land use-related impact assessment, bridges current research gaps and addresses the requirements of different stakeholders for a methodological framework. The conservation of biodiversity is a priority for humanity, as expressed in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Addressing biodiversity across value chains is a key challenge for enabling sustainable production pathways. Life cycle assessment is a standardised approach to assess and compare environmental impacts of products along their value chains. The impact assessment method presented in this article allows the quantification of the impact of land-using production processes on biodiversity for several broad land use classes. It provides a calculation framework with degrees of customisation (e.g., to take into account regional conservation priorities), but also offers a default valuation of biodiversity based on naturalness. The applicability of the method is demonstrated through an example of a consumer product. The main strength of the approach is that it yields highly aggregated information on the biodiversity impacts of products, enabling biodiversity-conscious decisions about raw materials, production routes and end user products.
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Published in: Sustainability, 10.3390/su11205628, MDPI
  • Erratum published on 13 March 2020, see Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2270. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205628