Land use is a main driver of global biodiversity loss (MES 2005). Within a product’s life cycle, the land use impacts can represent a significant portion of their total environmental burden. The impact assessment approach proposed by Chaudhary et al. (2015) using countryside species-area relationship (SAR) is used for calculating ecoregion specific marginal and average characterization factors (CFs) for biodiversity loss for both land occupation and transformation.
Two different sets of CFs are available: (1) marginal CFs, which are typically used in LCA to address impacts of additional land use and (2) average CFs, which are used to assess total impacts of land use within a region. We provide CFs using the countryside SAR (Pereira & Daily 2006) for five taxa (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and vascular plants) and six land use types (annual crops, permanent crops, pastures, urban, extensive forestry and intensive forestry). Definitions of each of the land use types are taken from Koellner et al. (2013). The CFs are weighted with vulnerability scores of each taxa which is a function of the geographic range of each species and a threat level. Ecoregions are used as spatial units because their boundaries approximate the original extent of natural ecosystems before major land use changes and distinct communities of species are known to exist within a given ecoregion (Olson et al 2001).
The value choice in the modelling of the land transformation impacts is the time horizon. As explained in the section 1.5 of framework chapter, the further away in time the impact is, the more uncertain its value is, (i.e. lower the level of robustness). We calculated two sets of transformation CFs. The user can choose between short-term “core” CFs (i.e. those calculated using the 100 year time horizon cut-off) or the precautionary CFs (calculated using total recovery times).