The VALUES team works on improving the Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) for Ecosystem Services (ES) by implementing an integrated modelling approach.

The assessment of ecosystem services in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has recently been promoted, and the scientific community still needs to find consensus on how to evaluate the impacts of human activities on the provision of ES. In this sense, integrated methods for the characterization of ES at the LCIA stage of LCA have to be developed.

The characterization of impacts on ecosystem services in Life Cycle Impact Assessment is still at its infancy. After reviewing the few characterization models currently available, the project team could observe a gap in concepts, theories and methods with specialised ES research.

 

> The results of this investigation have been published in Environmental Science & Technology

The use of an integrated model allows the VALUES team to consider the flow nature of ES,  to encompass the multi-functional aspect of ecosystems and to value the direct and indirect benefits of ES to the society. The following issues are addressed:

  • What consensual concepts should frame the characterization of life cycle impacts on ES flows and their provision to society?
  • Is an integrated modelling approach efficient to retrieve characterization factors useful in the context of LCIA, and more broadly, decision-making?

One goal for the VALUES researchers is also to spatialize their assessment at multiple scales, while putting down the basis for the modelling of dynamic human-environment interactions. A long-term goal of the VALUES team is to apply this novel methodology to a case study on the implementation of the European 2020 strategy in Luxembourg.

VALUES researchers focus on the application of a novel methodology for the case of pollination services and carbon sequestration along the production of different energy crops in Luxembourg.

In other words, the approach deals with working on the role of biodiversity in Life Cycle Impact Assessment through ecosystem services evaluation, more precisely focusing on the development of an integrated impact characterization model to assess the consequences of different land use changes on the provision of pollination and carbon sequestration services in Luxembourg.

Another version of the model designed to encompass global scale issues is also built and integrated, with a multi-scale nested approach, with the Luxembourg's model.

This modelling framework is based on the tuning of an existing integrated ecosystem service assessment model => MIMES (Multi-scale Integrated Model of Ecosystem Services).

  • Theoretical approach: Is it possible to suit an integrated model for the characterization of impacts on the provision of ES in the framework of LCIA?
  • Applicative approach: What are the life cycle impacts on ecosystem services of the production of biofuel in Luxembourg?

Evaluating the benefits for human society linked to biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services requires to shift the assessment focus from the diversity in biological components (e.g. number of present species or traits) to some features of specific biodiversity components associated with benefits (e.g. population of pollinators that pollinate crops).

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