Food versus fuel: Is there surplus land for bioenergy?

  • Pensoft Editorial Team
  • October 18, 2012
  • Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts which are currently discussed in the food vs. fuel controversy and the debate about indirect land-use change. Concepts for solving those conflicts suggest a spatial segregation of food/feed and bioenergy producing areas. It is suggested to continue producing food/feed on established agricultural land while growing dedicated energy crops on so called "surplus" land.

    Confusion in the applicability of those concepts is however caused by ambiguity in the definition and characterization of surplus land as well as by uncertainties in assessments of land availability, both on the national and the global scale, and of the potential yields of bioenergy crops when grown on surplus land.

    ‘We still have limited understanding of how much land is truly surplus and suitable for energy crop production’ said Dr Dauber, the lead author of the study, ‘because constraints arising from environmental and socio-economic implications of bioenergy development in those areas are often not accounted for in assessments of land availability’.

    The authors suggest a thorough reassessment of land availability for bioenergy production by clarifying the terminology of surplus land and taking both constraints and options for efficient and sustainable bioenergy-land use into account. Policy recommendations for resolving conflicting land-use demands are provided.

    In Dr Daubers opinion, ‘factoring in the constraints, combined with creativity in utilizing the options provided by the novel cropping systems, would lead to a more sustainable and efficient development of the bioenergy sector’.

    Original source
    Dauber J, Brown C, Fernando AL, Finnan J, Krasuska E, Ponitka J, Styles D, Thrän D, Van Groenigen KJ, Weih M, Zah R (2012) Bioenergy from "surplus" land: environmental and socio-economic implications. BioRisk 7: 5-50. doi: 10.3897/biorisk.7.3036

    About BioRisk
    BioRisk is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal launched to support free exchange of ideas and information in environmental science, issued by Pensoft Publishers. All papers published in BioRisk can be freely copied, downloaded, printed and distributed at no charge for the reader.

    Additional Information
    Renewable Fuels Agency
    UNEP
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