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Quantifying Land Use Impacts on Biodiversity: Combining Species-Area Models and Vulnerability Indicators

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Chaudhary Abhishek, Verones Francesca, de Baan Laura, Hellweg Stefanie,
Project Life Cycle Management of wood in Switzerland: methods, tools and environmental decision support
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Environmental Science & Technology
Page(s) 9987 - 9995
Title of proceedings Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.5b02507

Open Access

URL http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.est.5b02507
Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)

Abstract

Habitat degradation and subsequent biodiversity damage often takes place far away from the place of consumption due to globalization and increasing international trade. Informing consumers and policy makers about the biodiversity impacts “hidden” in the life cycle of imported products is an important step toward achieving sustainable consumption patterns and international biodiversity targets. Spatially explicit methods are needed in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to accurately quantify biodiversity footprintimpacts of products and processes. However, the methods to quantify land use impacts on biodiversity are still in early stages of development. We use the Countryside species area relationship (SAR) to quantify regional species loss due to land occupation and transformation for five taxa and six land use types in 804 terrestrial ecoregions. Further, we calculate vulnerability scores for each ecoregion based on the fraction of each species’ geographic range (endemic richness) hosted by the ecoregion and the IUCN assigned threat level of each species. Vulnerability scores are multiplied with SAR predicted regional species loss to estimate potential global extinctions per unit of land use. As a case study, we assess the land use biodiversity impacts of 1 kg of bioethanol produced using six different feed stocks in different parts of the world. Results show that the regions with highest biodiversity impacts differed markedly when including the vulnerability of species.
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