Land & Water

A review of indicators and methods to assess biodiversity: Application to livestock production at global scale

The objective of this report is to review biodiversity indicators and assessment methods applicable to the livestock sector at global scale. We conducted a systematic review of scientific articles (details in Appendix A1) describing biodiversity indicators, assessment, and footprinting methods in the context of livestock production or agriculture. Specific searches of publications were used to complete this systematic review. We detail biodiversity indicators and assessment methods within two main frameworks: Pressure-State-Response (PSR), and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) These were selected because they are widely recognized and used to assess environmental impacts, and because they allowed the development of many indicators and methods. In addition, these frameworks are well adapted to the context of livestock production. In Part 2, we describe biodiversity indicators and structure them using the PSR framework (OECD, 1993). This framework has been broadly used to structure biodiversity indicators and facilitate their interpretation. Part 2 also provides an overview of the different categories of pressures (and benefits) that livestock place on biodiversity (Section 4) and of the different levels and dimensions of biodiversity that can be described (Section 5). In Part 3, we describe several methods for including biodiversity impacts in the LCA framework. LCAs are a key tool for conducting environmental impact assessments and an increasing number of methods are being developed to address biodiversity loss. The Conclusion (Part 4) highlights complementarities between the PSR and LCA approaches. Indicators and methods have been developed separately within each of the two frameworks. Although they formalize it differently and use a different terminology, the PSR and LCA frameworks describe the same environmental cause-effect chain, from livestock production to drivers of biodiversity changes, and biodiversity changes themselves. While the review focuses on the PSR and LCA frameworks, Appendix A3 mentions other environmental assessment and management tools that are available from academia, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector. Throughout the review, we discuss whether the various indicators and methods presented are well-suited to the context of livestock production (where both negative and positive impacts have to be considered) and to the global scale, in order to further develop the LEAP Principles for the assessment of livestock impacts on biodiversity (LEAP, 2016) This review focuses on wild biodiversity: the genetic, domestic diversity of livestock breeds and crop varieties are not within its scope.

Source (link)
Thematic areas
Agriculture - productivity
User Category
Technical specialist, Scientific advisor, Policy maker