Biofuel and global biodiversity

Biofuel and global biodiversity

Policy options to mitigate biofuel impacts on biodiversity

How is the increasing demand of plant biomass for biofuels exacerbating agriculture’s impact on biodiversity? This document analyses how biofuels are changing land-use patterns in many regions around the world, including some of the most diverse and sensitive regions on the planet, and provides recommendations for moving biofuel production toward more sustainable systems.

The authors argue that although current trends in the biofuel industry show that biodiversity could be substantially harmed, particularly in developing countries, this does not need to be the case. The paper discusses how the impacts of biofuel are more symptomatic of inappropriate agricultural production systems and policies.

Four policy arenas are identified that can help mitigate the impact of biofuel production on biodiversity.

  • protect native ecosystems and indigenous land
  • make sustainability a priority for all biofuel production
  • moderate the environmental damage that results from the dramatic price volatility in agricultural commodities
  • redesign the agricultural and energy sectors.
The authors examine case studies where the industry is developing the fastest, looking at: Indonesia and Malaysia, Brazil and the United States.

The paper concludes that from a biodiversity perspective, three components of the biofuel industry with major ecological implications have been identified and must be addressed: landuse, the sustainability of agricultural systems, and commodity prices. A number of recommendations are made, which include:
  • protect native ecosystems and indigenous lands
  • make sustainability a priority for all biofuel production
  • take advantage of this rare opportunity to redesign the agricultural and energy sectors
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