What Is the Impact of Accidentally Transporting Terrestrial Alien Species? A New Life Cycle Impact Assessment Model
AuthorBorgelt, Jan Simon; Dorber, Martin; Géron, Charly; Kuipers, Koen Jacobus Josefus; Huijbregts, Mark A. J.; Verones, Francesca
Alien species form one of the main threats to global biodiversity. Although Life Cycle Assessment attempts to holistically assess environmental impacts of products and services across value chains, ecological impacts of the introduction of alien species are so far not assessed in Life Cycle Impact Assessment. Here, we developed country-to-country-specific characterization factors, expressed as the time-integrated potentially disappeared fraction (PDF; regional and global) of native terrestrial species due to alien species introductions per unit of goods transported [kg] between two countries. The characterization factors were generated by analyzing global data on first records of alien species, native species distributions, and their threat status, as well as bilateral trade partnerships from 1870–2019. The resulting characterization factors vary over several orders of magnitude, indicating that impact greatly varies per transportation route and trading partner. We showcase the applicability and relevance of the characterization factors for transporting 1 metric ton of freight to France from China, South Africa, and Madagascar. The results suggest that the introduction of alien species can be more damaging for terrestrial biodiversity as climate change impacts during the international transport of commodities.
CitationBorgelt J, Dorber M, Géron C, Kuipers KJJ, Huijbregts MAJ, Verones F. What Is the Impact of Accidentally Transporting Terrestrial Alien Species? A New Life Cycle Impact Assessment Model. Environmental Science and Technology. 2024
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