Biodiversity in life cycle assessments

Logo Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety
© Bundesministerium für Umwelt, naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit
Logo Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.
Logo Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
© Bundesamt für Naturschutz
Logo - Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.
Logo Biodiversity Impact Assessment
© Biodiversity Impact Assessment
Logo Biodiversity Impact Assessment

The international "Convention on Biodiversity" (CBD) defines biodiversity as the diversity of species, the genetic diversity within individual species and the diversity of ecosystems. However, the term is often interpreted differently because it can be characterized and measured in many different ways. Against this background, the project “Biodiversity in Life Cycle Assessments” serves to provide companies with tools that enable them to assess the effects of their actions on biological diversity, taking into account the various ambiguous and unclear definitions and the current lack of methods for measuring and assessing biodiversity.

The aim of the project, which is led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, is to develop a method for mapping effects on biological diversity in the context of life cycle assessment according to ISO 14040 and ISO 14044. Called Biodiversity Impact Assessment, the method makes it possible to quantify the effects of industrial production processes, trade, consumption and disposal on biological diversity and to incorporate them into the LCA.

Project results

1) Qualitative screening (completed)

To minimize the effort involved in applying the method, qualitative screening is used as a basis for an initial qualitative assessment. The purpose of screening is to pre-sort the various components of a product system according to the relevance of their impact on biodiversity. This reduces the complexity of the subsequent biodiversity impact assessment.

2) Biodiversity Impact Assessment (ongoing)

The Biodiversity Impact Assessment fits into the existing framework for quantifying land use effects in LCA (UNEP-SETAC Framework). For given land use processes, the method calculates (potential) damage to biodiversity. This damage is related to the product units fabricated by the process, thus establishing a link with the LCA.

Networking and case studies

A consensus-based method for assessing biological diversity can only be developed by working closely together with practitioners. For this reason, the applicability of the method in practice is ensured through continuous discussions with company representatives from various sectors, as well as with representatives from the fields of nature conservation and life cycle assessment. The method will be tested and further developed in case studies with partners from the textile, cement, food and forestry industries.

The project is funded by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with funding from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Nuclear Safety. The consortium is led by Fraunhofer IBP and consists of scientists and environmental consulting companies (Prof. Rainer Luick; thinkstep; corsus - corporate sustainability; brands & values).