Linking ecosystem services and damages from bauxite mining in an LCA context - A case study from Hydro and a movement towards no net loss of ecosystem services
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This study is part of a yearlong study with Norsk Hydro ASA addressing the impacts on ecosystem services in primary aluminum value chains. Here, the focus is on the impacts of bauxite mining at two locations in northern Brazil: Trombetas and Paragominas. Although increasingly used as an impact assessment method, life cycle assessment (LCA) has yet to incorporate ecosystem services as an area of protection, mainly due to region-specific data requirements and the lack of a cohesive agreement as to how they should be covered in LCA. To solve these problems, I propose a region-specific method to account for the potentially lost fraction of ecosystem services (PLES) at an endpoint level. This study is based on aluminum, although the PLES method is applicable in many different cases. The PLES system relies on a literature review, expert knowledge, and a scoring system corresponding to land cover to evaluate the potential presence of ecosystem services. Because ecosystem services are highly site- and area-dependent, this study addresses discrepancies between modeled land cover and expert knowledge on land cover. I found that using modeled land cover data leads to a 27% increase in the perceived loss of ecosystem services when compared to data based on expert knowledge. Trombetas had a lesser impact on ecosystem services than Paragominas using the PLES methodology. However, the PLES does not account for cultural ecosystem services. This would likely yield higher results on overall ecosystem service impacts in Trombetas, especially since it is located where many Quilombolas are living.