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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

What does Life-Cycle Assessment of agricultural products need for more meaningful inclusion of biodiversity?

Teillard, Felix; de Souza, Danielle Maia; Thoma, Greg; Gerber, Pierre J.; Finn, John A.


I. Decision-makers increasingly use lite-cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool to measure the environmental s-ustainability of products. LCA is of particular importance in globalized agricultural supply chains, which have environmental effects in multiple and spatially dispersed loca tions.2. Incorporation of impacts on biodiversity that arise from agricultural production systems into environmental assessment methods is an emerging area of work in LCA, and current approaches have limitations, including the need for (i) improved assessment of impacts to biodiversity associated with agricultural production, (ii) inclusion of new biodiversity indicators (e.g. conservation value, functional diversity, ecosystem services) and (iii) inclusion of previously unaccounted modelling variables that go beyond land-use impacts (e.g. climate change, water and soil quality).3. Synthesis and applications. Ecological models and understanding can contribute to address the limitations of current life-cycle assessment (LCA) methods in agricultural production systems and to make them more ecologically relevant. This will be necessary to ensure that biodiversity is not neglected in decision-making that relies on LCA.


agricultural production systems; conservation; environmental assessment methods; environmental impact; food products; life-cycle assessment (LCA); livestock; off-farm impact; policy; sustainable agriculture

Published in

Journal of Applied Ecology
2016, volume: 53, number: 5, pages: 1422-1429

Authors' information

Teillard, Félix
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Maia De Souza, Danielle
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology
Maia De Souza, Danielle
Lethbridge Research and Development Centre
Maia De Souza, Danielle
University of Alberta
Thoma, Greg
University of Arkansas
Gerber, Pierre J.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Finn, John A

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
SDG13 Climate action
SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)