Prospects of integrating ecosystem services into Life Cycle Assessment: application to a Mediterranean vineyard

Main Presenter: Amandine Pastor 

Co-Authors: Esron Heineman Eleonore Loiseau Arnaud Helias Philippe Roux Rossano Ciampalini Joao Pedro Nunes Damien Raclot

Life cycle assessment is a powerful tool to compare the environmental impacts of different systems along the stages of agriculture production. However, when it comes to representing the multifunctional aspects of agriculture, LCA has shown some limitations [1]. Indeed, if a conventional farming system provides, in general, higher yields than agriculture with organic/soil conservation practices, then the environmental impacts of conventional farming are then more diluted into an agricultural product than with an organic farming system. Some of this misrepresentation is due to the coarse resolution of spatial data used in LCA (from archetypes to regional and/or national scales), some of it is due to methodological shortcomings such as the integration of nature’s benefit into farming systems in LCA. Recent studies have proposed several frameworks for including ecosystem services in LCA [2]–[6]. However, there is yet a consensus on a common method despite the recent research advances.
Today, there is a need to understand the state of the art of the proposed methods and whether implementation difficulties stem from data availability and/or accessibility, process modelling, and/or both. In this study, we present the state of the art from previous frameworks proposing the integration of ES into LCA methodology and tested recent developments on a specific case study: a Mediterranean vineyard Roujan.

In this research, we evaluated several ecosystem services (water yield, erosion and carbon sequestration) with various spatially-explicit modelling techniques (from biophysical modelling with the LandSoil model [7] to more empirical models like InVEST). The objective of using spatially-explicit modelling is to improve the representation of biophysical fluxes in the LCA modelling chains. To test the different existing methodologies, we have chosen Roujan, a Mediterranean vineyard in the south of France that has been monitored for several years. This site is also representative of the Languedoc region where vineyards are the main agricultural activity. We then compared several input datasets, ES methods, and their respective impacts in LCA assessments. At this stage, the ES that were assessed are:

  • Carbon sequestration due to land-use change and land management with the InVEST model
  • Erosion due to different land use and land management with the LandSOIL and InVEST models
  • Water yield with the InVEST model

The results presented offer a new perspective on how and why ecosystem services should be integrated into LCA assessments, especially for achieving a carbon-neutral society by 2050 in the context of achieving several SDGs.

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