Environmental sustainability has recently shifted towards biodiversity protection via governmental and intergovernmental initiatives (e.g., the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, MA). The life cycle assessment, the widespread method for assessing environmental sustainability, was not created to evaluate impacts on biodiversity. However, several authors recognize its ability to estimate biodiversity loss drivers (impact indices on land use change and ecosystem). The study aims to apply LCA to the forest sector, precisely to the wood–energy chain of Hophornbeam, to cover suggestions of the MA for the biodiversity impact assessment. Six different scenarios for stove (3) and fireplace (3) wood production were analyzed, evaluating two baselines and four alternative scenarios, including sensitivity analyses related to transport distances for the raw materials. The functional unit is 1 MJ of energy. The fireplace combustion scenarios are relatively more sustainable than the stove ones are (2.95–3.21% less). The global warming potential (around 3 g CO2 eq/MJ) is consistent with current European directives on the sustainability of biofuels and scientific literature. The scenarios showed similarities regarding the impact of the categories related to MA drivers. Although biodiversity is protected by limiting forest management, some authors argue that for some species (e.g., Hophornbeam), a rational tree felling could produce biofuels, increasing biodiversity.
European Hophornbeam Biomass for Energy Application: Influence of Different Production Processes and Heating Devices on Environmental Sustainability / Ilari, A.; Fabrizi, S.; Foppa Pedretti, E.. - In: RESOURCES. - ISSN 2079-9276. - 11:2(2022). [10.3390/resources11020011]