Modeling the local biodiversity impacts of agricultural water use: Case study of a wetland in the coastal arid area of Peru

  • Verones F
  • Bartl K
  • Pfister S
 et al. 
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Global water use is dominated by agriculture and has considerable influence on people's livelihood and ecosystems, especially in semiarid and arid regions. Methods to address the impacts of water withdrawal and consumption on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within life cycle assessment are still sparse and very generic. Regionalized characterization factors (CFs) for a groundwater-fed wetland at the arid coast of Peru are developed for groundwater and surface water withdrawal and consumption in order to address the spatial dependency of water use related impacts. Several agricultural scenarios for 2020 were developed in a workshop with local stakeholders and used for calculating total biodiversity impacts. In contrast to assumptions used in top-down approaches (e.g., Pfister et al. Environ. Sci Technol. 2009, 43, 4098 ), irrigation with surface water leads in this specific region to benefits for the groundwater-fed wetland, due to additional groundwater recharge from surplus irrigation water. However, irrigation with groundwater leads to ecological damage to the wetland. The CFs derived from the different scenarios are similar and can thus be used as general CFs for this region, helping local decision-makers to plan future agricultural development, including irrigation technologies, crop choices, and protection of the wetland.

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