Biodiversity assessment in LCA: a validation at field and farm scale in eight European regions

Gisela Lüscher, Thomas Nemecek, M. Arndorfer, Katalin Balázs, Peter Dennis, Wendy Fjellstad, J. K. Friedel, Gerard Gaillard, Felix Herzog, Jean-Pierre Sarthou, Siyka Stoyanova, Sebastian Wolfrum, Philippe Jeanneret

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Purpose: Inclusion of the impact of land use on biodiversity within the context of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is essential to assess the effects of human activities on the environment. Numerous models have been applied, but validations that use actual data collected in the field are scarce.
Methods: The expert system SALCA-BD (Swiss Agricultural LCA – Biodiversity), assigns coefficients for land use class suitability and impact of agricultural practices on species diversity at the field and farm scale. We used data on land use classes and agricultural practices from 132 farms located in eight European regions to complete the life cycle inventory. SALCA-BD species diversity scores were calculated for individual plots, aggregated to the farm scale and compared to field records of arable crop flora, grassland flora, spiders and wild bees.
Results: Overall, species diversity scores from SALCA-BD were positively related to the observed species richness from field survey data. The extent of the relationship diminished from arable crop flora and grassland flora to spiders and to wild bees, and from the field to farm scale.
Conclusions: Improvements of land use class suitability coefficients for semi-natural land use classes and region specific conditions are recommended. The validation of LCA biodiversity assessment tools with data from field survey is a necessary step to facilitate improvement and increase credibility of such tools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1483-1492
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Issue number10
Early online date10 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2017


  • agriculture
  • biodiversity indicators
  • farmland biodiversity
  • life cycle
  • assessment
  • species diversity


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