A large scale expansion in bioenergy crop production could be just as detrimental to biodiversity as climate change itself, according to new research.
The study, which involved expertise from Durham University’s Department of Biosciences, investigated the potential impacts of future climate and land-use change on vertebrate biodiversity across the planet.
The authors argue there is an urgent need to carefully consider biodiversity when expanding bioenergy cropland, for example growing oil palm, maize and rapeseed.
Familiar species that would be predicted to decline substantially across their global range as a consequence of an expansion in bioenergy cropland combined with climate change include the hedgehog (44% potential loss), red squirrel (46% potential loss) and common starling (15% potential loss), say the researchers.
Globally, palm oil production is already known to be having a detrimental impact on orang-utan populations.
The study, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, Monday 10 December 2018, was led by the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Technical University of Munich, Germany, in collaboration with Durham University.
Speaking about the research findings, Professor Stephen Willis, Durham University Department of Biosciences, said: “We found that the combination of climate change and large-scale expansion of bioenergy crops would together threaten about 36% of the habitats of all global vertebrate species, including many that are already the subject of significant conservation work.
“While bioenergy is clearly an important tool for climate change mitigation, the potential impacts on biodiversity must not be ignored.
“A strong reliance on bioenergy to combat climate change could result in outcomes for biodiversity that are little better than would occur if we didn’t implement bioenergy strategies, despite the consequent climate change implications.
“Instead, we should be thinking about how to swiftly and significantly reduce energy consumption if biodiversity is to be protected.”
In order to meet the Paris Agreement aims to keep the rise in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, many climate mitigation scenarios rely on increased bioenergy use, requiring large-scale production of crops such as corn, rape and oil palm.
As part of their study the team compared two scenarios. The first would result in global warming of approximately 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 and relies on a maximum use of bioenergy. Under the second scenario temperatures rise by approximately three degrees Celsius by the year 2100, with a very low use of bioenergy.
Dr Christian Hof, who conducted the study at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and is now based at the Technical University of Munich, said: “In order to limit climate change in this way, we would need to cultivate bioenergy crops on approximately 4.3 % of the global land area by 2100 – which corresponds to almost one-and-a-half times the area of all EU countries combined.
“This would severely affect the biodiversity currently found in these regions. The reduction of the negative effects of climate change achieved by the maximum use of bioenergy is not enough to offset this loss of biodiversity.”
Limiting climate change has been central to discussions at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Poland.
The impacts of an expansion in bioenergy cropland are already becoming apparent. In tropical regions, oil-palm plantations are having a detrimental impact on flora and fauna. In temperate areas, the replacement of other crops with maize has negatively affected populations of farmland birds and mammals.
The Latest on: Bioenergy crop production
via Google News
The Latest on: Bioenergy crop production
- AI for plant breeding in an ever-changing climateon November 14, 2019 at 6:05 am
Then, we can connect that with how plants have historically adapted to environments in order to design new ideal genotypes for bioenergy or food production that are optimized to thrive in specific ...
- Angus Taylor asks ARENA to prepare national bioenergy roadmapon November 12, 2019 at 5:19 pm
included from dedicated energy crops or from waste streams such as wastewater, agricultural waste or sewage. Bioenergy sources can be adapted for the supply of heat, or processed in the production of ...
- Opinion: Australian ag must grow up to growon November 10, 2019 at 9:11 pm
Currently, Australia exports two thirds of all agricultural production to Asia (’16/’17), and our ... investors and funding agencies, bioenergy researchers, program directors and policy makers, to ...
- EU’s forestation targets demand dietary rethinkon November 8, 2019 at 1:54 am
The problem – particularly in a densely populated region like Europe – is that trees take up space, and much of that space is already used to grow crops for human consumption, animal feedstocks and ...
- We need to export agriculture’s productivity miracleon November 7, 2019 at 1:45 pm
Global productivity in agriculture production continues to grow healthily ... It also says 1.73 percent growth per year is needed to produce food, feed, fibre and bioenergy for the globe by 2050. This ...
- Guest post: Ten ways to use CO2 and how they compareon November 7, 2019 at 6:36 am
And CO2-using techniques, such as soil carbon sequestration, through their ability to enhance crop yields, can also make an economic product ... at costs that are between -$60 and -$40 per tonne of ...
- The long haul to getting aviation biofuel off the groundon October 30, 2019 at 5:00 pm
A good bioenergy crop is something that grows fast, does not need a lot of water or fertiliser ... government and UN organisations that is driving best practice for sustainable biomaterial production ...
- The use of sugarcane straw for bioenergy is an opportunity, but there are pros and conson October 30, 2019 at 6:01 am
"As can be seen, the decision whether or not to leave straw on the ground has a significant impact on the crop and the entire industry ... with all the associated benefits in terms of bioenergy ...
- Agricultural productivity lagging expected demandon October 28, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Agricultural-productivity growth – the increasing output of crops and livestock with existing or fewer ... of 1.73 percent by 2050 to sustainably produce food, feed, fiber and bioenergy for 10 billion ...
- Volner: A&B not farming any GMO food, animal feed cropson October 21, 2019 at 5:00 pm
The company reiterated that it is focusing on livestock and growing bioenergy feedstocks ... papayas and bananas and citrus crops without any pesticides. He said more needs to be done to ramp up food ...
via Bing News