Our aim is to develop characterization factors, whose value, expressed in ecosystem services per unit area of land use, should depict the potential loss or gain of ecosystem services associated with the expansion of productive areas supporting good or service life cycles.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the overarching environmental accounting framework that we wish to enrich by adding ecosystem services as an impact category. LCA is a well-framed methodology standardized under the 2006 ISO norms (ISO 14040-ISO 14044), and is based on four methodological stages > The methodology of LCA:

 

Two stages are of interest to us:

  • The Inventory analysis that accounts for all the inputs and outputs needed along the life cycle of the investigated product, considering the extraction of raw material(s) used afterwards in the supply-chain and as product constituents, its industrial transformation processes, the use of the product, as well as the transport activities and the end-of-life phases. In VALUES, we focus on the land input necessary to support, for example, the production of biomass or the construction of an industrial plant.
  • The Impact assessment is the phase that translates the previously inventoried inputs and outputs into potential impacts of interest to society. Among these so-called impact categories are global warming, eutrophication, acidification, and, in our case, ecosystem services.

In order to reach our aim, we use the Multi-scale Integrated Models of Ecosystem Services (MIMES), coupled with techniques of:

  • Ecological modelling and ecosystem services mapping and valuation,
  • Geographic Information System (GIS),
  • Environmentally-Extended Input-Output (EEIO) modelling,
  • Land use prospective modelling.

This dynamic and multi-scale integrated model allows to evaluate the changes in ES provision induced by different scenarios of development over time and space, and at multiple scales (e.g. municipal, national, global).

>> The MIMES model framework



Image source: MIMES / "The Multiscale Integrated Model of Ecosystem Services (MIMES): Simulating the interactions of coupled human and natural systems"

More specifically, and taking as a scenario the use of land by production systems, in VALUES we wish to couple:

Accordingly, we wish to evaluate the impact of expanding different land use types (from the CORINE classification system and according to their implementation in life cycle inventory databases such as ecoinvent v3) on the pollination of crops and the sequestration of carbon worldwide and at the scale of Luxembourg.

The results obtained from this modelling exercise are tested over a case-study focusing on the implementation and production of biofuels in Luxembourg in the frame of a previously FNR CORE funded project.

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