Land use impacts on biodiversity from kiwifruit production in New Zealand assessed with global and national datasets
Journal article, 2014
Purpose: Habitat loss is a significant cause of biodiversity loss, but while its importance is widely recognized, there is no generally accepted method on how to include impacts on biodiversity from land use and land use changes in cycle assessment (LCA), and existing methods are suffering from data gaps. This paper proposes a methodology for assessing the impact of land use on biodiversity using ecological structures as opposed to information on number of species. Methods: Two forms of the model (global and local scales) were used to assess environmental quality, combining ecosystem scarcity, vulnerability, and conditions for maintaining biodiversity. A case study for New Zealand kiwifruit production is presented. As part of the sensitivity analysis, model parameters (area and vulnerability) were altered and New Zealand datasets were also used. Results and discussion: When the biodiversity assessment was implemented using a global dataset, the importance of productivity values was shown to depend on the area the results were normalized against. While the area parameter played an important role in the results, the proposed alternative vulnerability scale had little influence on the final outcome. Conclusions: Overall, the paper successfully implements a model to assess biodiversity impacts in LCA using easily accessible, free-of-charge data and software. Comparing the model using global vs. national datasets showed that there is a potential loss of regional significance when using the generalized model with the global dataset. However, as a guide to assessing biodiversity impact, the model allows for consistent comparison of product systems on an international basis.