Characterization factors for land use impacts on biodiversity in life cycle assessment based on direct measures of plant species richness in European farmland in the ‘Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forest`.
Journal article, 2017

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a widely used tool to assess environmental sustainability of products. The LCA should optimally cover themost important environmental impact categories such as climate change, eutrophication and biodiversity. However, impacts on biodiversity are seldom included in LCAs due tomethodological limitations and lack of appropriate characterization factors. When assessing organic agricultural products the omission of biodiversity in LCA is problematic, because organic systems are characterized by higher species richness at field level compared to the conventional systems. Thus, there is a need for characterization factors to estimate land use impacts on biodiversity in life cycle assessment that are able to distinguish between organic and conventional agricultural land use that can be used to supplement and validate the few currently suggested characterization factors. Based on a unique dataset derived fromfield recording of plant species diversity in farmland across six European countries, the present study provides newmidpoint occupation Characterization Factors (CF) expressing the Potentially Disappeared Fraction (PDF) to estimate land use impacts on biodiversity in the ‘Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forest’ biome in Europe. The method is based on calculation of plant species on randomly selected test sites in the biome and enables the calculation of characterization factors that are sensitive to particular types ofmanagement.While species richness differs between countries, the calculated CFs are able to distinguish between different land use types (pastures (monocotyledons or mixed), arable land and hedges) and management practices (organic or conventional production systems) across countries. The new occupation CFs can be used to supplement or validate the fewcurrent CF's and can be applied in LCAs of agricultural products to assess land use impacts on species richness in the ‘Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forest’ biome.


Marie Trydeman Knudsen

Aarhus University

John E Hermansen

Aarhus University

Christel Cederberg

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

F Herzog

Institute for Sustainability Sciences

J Vale

Aberystwyth University

P Jeanneret

Institute for Sustainability Sciences

J-P Sarthou

ENSAT Ecole Nationale Superieure Agronomique de Toulouse

INRA Toulouse

J-K Friedel

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences

K Balazs

Szent István University

W Fjellstad

The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO)

M Kainz

Technical University of Munich

S Wolfrum

Technical University of Munich

P Dennis

Aberystwyth University

Science of the Total Environment

0048-9697 (ISSN) 1879-1026 (eISSN)

Vol. 580 358-366

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Earth and Related Environmental Sciences



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Latest update

5/2/2018 2