Which species count? Reflections on the concept of species richness for biodiversity endpoints in LCA
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Engineering sciences. Technology
Chemical engineering transactions
, p. 133-138
University of Antwerp
The importance of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as an impact assessment tool has been growing in recent years. There are important mandates in place that provide incentives for companies to use this method to quantify the environmental impacts of their activities, and more are expected to follow. There are, however, some significant challenges that must still be addressed before the method becomes established practice. One of the most important barriers remaining is finding a widely accepted and accurate impact assessment method for biodiversity. This review article presents a reflection on the concept of species richness as it is currently used in Life Cycle Impact Assessment methodologies. It applies to calculations of biodiversity impacts from land use exclusively. Power law models such as the Species-Area Relationship are useful macroecological tools to predict potential extinctions from land use due to their apparent simplicity and broad applicability. The main assumptions of the SAR models are laid out and their limitations critically assessed when used in the context of LCA. Alternatives models are proposed for future evaluation by Industrial Ecologists and Biologists. The article also proposes a rationale under which a model can be considered to fit LCAs purpose, and finally conclude with a shortlist of topics for future research.