Land use and biodiversity

Increasing land consumption as well as the loss of species and their diversity through the destruction of habitats have become a key topic of environmental policy over the last few years. However, this topic has still hardly been taken into consideration in Life Cycle Assessments. While the »classic« impact categories such as climate change and acidification, which can be evaluated by means of Life Cycle Assessment, cover most of the global ecological impact of a product’s life cycle, the effects on specific local conditions – for example on various ecosystem functions such as groundwater formation and the filtering capacity of the soil, or biodiversity – are much more difficult to quantify and assess.

Both public authorities and the industrial sector require instruments with which they can measure and manage the effects of human actions on land use and biodiversity. The Life Cycle Engineering Department has been developing and testing methods in these areas: Already in 2002, a method was devised for calculating the impact of land use on ecosystem functions; this was extended in cooperation with international industrial and research partners and implemented in LANCA® (Land Use Indicator Value Calculation Tool). This method is undergoing constant further development. Since 2008, scientists from the department have been working in various national and international syndicates on integrating aspects of biological variety into Life Cycle Assessment.