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Including GHG emissions from mangrove forests LULUC in LCA: a case study on shrimp farming in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Järviö, Natasha, Henriksson, PatrikJ. G., Guinée, JeroenB.
The international journal of life cycle assessment 2018 v.23 no.5 pp. 1078-1090
Penaeus monodon, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon sinks, case studies, data quality, deforestation, ecosystem services, farming systems, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, guidelines, land use change, life cycle assessment, lognormal distribution, mangrove forests, methane, nitrogen, oxidation, river deltas, shrimp, shrimp culture, soil erosion, uncertainty, Vietnam
PURPOSE: Mangrove forests have been recognized as important regulators of greenhouse gases (GHGs), yet the resulting land use and land-use change (LULUC) emissions have rarely been accounted for in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. The present study therefore presents up-to-date estimates for GHG emissions from mangrove LULUC and applies them to a case study of shrimp farming in Vietnam. METHODS: To estimate the global warming impacts of mangrove LULUC, a combination of the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines, the Net Committed Emissions, and the Missed Potential Carbon Sink method were used. A literature review was then conducted to characterize the most critical parameters for calculating carbon losses, missed sequestration, methane fluxes, and dinitrogen monoxide emissions. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Our estimated LUC emissions from mangrove deforestation resulted in 124 t CO₂ ha⁻¹ year⁻¹, assuming IPCC’s recommendations of 1 m of soil loss, and 96% carbon oxidation. In addition to this, 1.25 t of carbon would no longer be sequestered annually. Discounted over 20 years, this resulted in total LULUC emissions of 129 t CO₂ ha⁻¹ year⁻¹ (CV = 0.441, lognormal distribution (ln)). Shrimp farms in the Mekong Delta, however, can today operate for 50 years or more, but are 1.5 m deep (50% oxidation). In addition to this, Asian tiger shrimp farming in mixed mangrove concurrent farms (the only type of shrimp farm that resulted in mangrove deforestation since 2000 in our case study) resulted in 533 kg methane and 1.67 kg dinitrogen monoxide per hectare annually. Consequently, the LULUC GHG emissions resulted in 184 and 282 t CO₂-eq t⁻¹ live shrimp at farm gate, using mass and economic allocation, respectively. These GHG emissions are about an order of magnitude higher than from semi-intensive or intensive shrimp farming systems. Limitations in data quality and quantity also led us to quantify the uncertainties around our emission estimates, resulting in a CV of between 0.4 and 0.5. CONCLUSIONS: Our results reinforce the urgency of conserving mangrove forests and the need to quantify uncertainties around LULUC emissions. It also questions mixed mangrove concurrent shrimp farming, where partial removal of mangrove forests is endorsed based upon the benefits of partial mangrove conservation and maintenance of certain ecosystem services. While we recognize that these activities limit the chances of complete removal, our estimates show that large GHG emissions from mangrove LULUC question the sustainability of this type of shrimp farming, especially since mixed mangrove farming only provide 5% of all farmed shrimp produced in Vietnam.