Technical Bulletins & Special Reports

Special Report No. 15-04: Methods for Characterizing Forest-Related Land Use Impacts in Life Cycle Assessment

This report discusses proposals for evaluating land use impacts in LCA, including a general framework proposed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). The report explains impact assessment in life cycle assessment (LCA), how evaluation of land use impacts fits in that context, the general framework proposed by UNEP-SETAC, different proposals for biodiversity and ecosystem services impact indicators for use in LCA, and challenges related to addressing biodiversity and ecosystem services through LCA. The report concludes that LCA is not currently, and may never be, suited to providing reliable site-specific assessment results concerning the complexities of biodiversity and ecosystem services associated with land use, including forest management, largely because of the complexities of biodiversity and the global and comprehensive nature of LCA. Nonetheless, there is a need to integrate consideration for land use such as forestry within life cycle approaches, potentially through the use of complementary site-specific and/or territorial assessment approaches.

KEYWORDS: biodiversity, forest products, land use, life cycle assessment