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Ecosystem services and life cycle assessment: A bibliometric review

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Full Publication Date
June 2021

This paper uses bibliometric mapping and network analysis to review decades of research on ecosystem services and life cycle assessment (LCA). The study reveals how these two academic fields evolved to become distinct fields with little interaction despite shared environmental sustainability objectives. In assessing more than 56,000 publications, we identified just 91 LCA studies that integrate biotic ecosystem services in a meaningful way. We further classified these papers based on an ecosystem service standardization system – the Common International Classification for Ecosystem Services (CICES) – and the use of LCA midpoints and endpoints. LCA research has focused on a relatively small number of regulation and maintenance ecosystem services (especially carbon balance), with far less emphasis on provisioning services. Research on cultural services is especially scarce. Land use is a particularly promising area for integrative ecosystem services–LCA research but will require more sophisticated accounting of geographic and temporal variation, as well as the dynamic exchanges of flows between regions. We conclude by illustrating how Geographic Information Science (GIScience) can help address these challenges, enabling much deeper and wider integration of ecosystem service accounting in the LCA field.

Ecosystem services, Geographic information science, Land use, Life cycle assessment
Publication Type
Journal Article
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Full Citation
Vanderwilde, Calli P. and Joshua P. Newell (2021) “Ecosystem services and life cycle assessment: A bibliometric review.” Resources, Conservation, and Recycling 169(105461): 1-15.