13 Jun 2021

Update of the Blonk Direct Land Use Change Assessment Tool

LUC Impact tool  for calculating the environmental impact of land use change for crop cultivation

Deforestation and land use change (LUC) remain big, global problems and main contributors to climate change. Globally, forest coverage continues to decrease by an astonishing average of 4.7 million hectares every year (FAO, 2020). Agricultural expansion is responsible for a large part of LUC, which includes for example conversion from forest area to cropland, but also from grassland to cropland. Well-known examples of LUC are connected to the production of palm oil, lumber wood and soybean, but also crops like maize, cassava and sweet potatoes are associated with LUC. Blonk developed a tool to help experts to calculate the greenhouse gas emission emerging from LUC, also when little primary data is available.

An updated version of the LUC Impact tool (formerly known as Direct Land Use Change Assessment Tool) is now available.

LUC Impact tool helps to calculate greenhouse gas emissions from land use change

In Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies it is often a requirement to report the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) caused by LUC separately. However, when calculating the LUC-related carbon footprint of an agricultural product, primary data availability of LUC is often a challenge. For instance, when previous land use is unknown. Fortunately, the FAO has collected data of cropland expansion and contraction, as well as on forest- and grassland expansion and contraction, on country levels.
Based on this data, and built on the PAS2050-1 framework, Blonk has developed the LUC Impact tool (formerly known as Direct Land Use Change Assessment tool). LUC Impact is an Excel tool which provides a predefined way of calculating GHG emissions from LUC. The tool gives insight in the land transformation and associated emissions related to the cultivation of a specific country and crop combination. The LUC Impact tool has options to define LUC when the previous land use is known, but also when it is unknown. In case the country of cultivation is also unknown, the tool provides the option to calculate the average GHG emissions connected to LUC for a selected crop. This way, the tool offers three functionalities based on the amount of information available to the user. The tool also enables selecting some specific land management practices that influence the soil organic carbon content, such as tillage level and organic input level, to accurately represent the carbon stock of the specific cultivation system.

The 2021 update: what’s new?

After the first version in 2014 we updated the tool yearly, up to 2018. And now, in May 2021, we have published a new version of the tool, under the new name of ‘LUC Impact’. In this update we incorporated the latest data from FAO, up to and including 2018 (the most recent data available in 2021). Furthermore, new estimations of biomass carbon stock in forests from the Forest Resource Assessment 2020 are included, and soil carbon stock factors are adapted to the in 2019 updated guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories from the IPCC. The full update description can be downloaded via the button below.


LCA database for plant-based ingredients for Pulse Canada

With the help of the new LUC Impact tool, Blonk Consultants has developed a new LCA database for plant-based ingredients for Pulse Canada, the Industry Association for Canadian pulse growers and exporters.
The database combines country-specific datasets of common pulses, such as soybean and peas, with regionalized datasets. To include the CO2 equivalent emissions related to land use change, the recently updated LUC Impact tool has been used. Like this, it was possible to calculate the emissions and removal of greenhouse gases caused by the conversion of land use (e.g., from forest to agricultural land) specifically for soybeans and peas in particular geographical areas. In addition, quite uniquely, with the help of the LUC Impact tool it was possible to account for the influence of different tillage practices on carbon stocks and the resulting CO2 equivalent emissions.

Interested in LUC Impact tool? 

LUC Impact is available under an annual license. Please contact us for a quotation or for questions about the LUC Impact tool. The dataset only, including all possible crop-country combinations from the ‘country known; previous land use unknown’ functionality, is available through our tool portal.

More information

Get in touch

Meike van de Wouw
Marketing & Communication Manager | Blonk

Please get in touch with Meike if you would like to learn more about the LUC Impact tool and its applications or if you are interested in a license.