The Ecological Impact of Biofuels

TitleThe Ecological Impact of Biofuels
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsFargione JE, Plevin RJ, Hill JD
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
Pagination351 - 377
Date Published12/2010

The ecological impact of biofuels is mediated through their effects on land, air, and water. In 2008, about 33.3 million ha were used to produce food-based biofuels and their coproducts. Biofuel production from food crops is expected to increase 170% by 2020. Economic model estimates for land-use change (LUC) associated with food-based biofuels are 67ā€“365 ha 10āˆ’6 lāˆ’1, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions for decades compared to business as usual. Biodiversity is reduced by about 60% in U.S. corn and soybean fields and by about 85% in Southeast Asian oil palm plantations compared to unconverted habitat. Consequently, the largest ecological impact of biofuel production may well come from market-mediated LUC. Mitigating this impact requires targeting biofuel production to degraded and abandoned cropland and rangeland; increasing crop yields and livestock production efficiency; use of wastes, residues, and wildlife-friendly crops; and compensatory offsite mitigation for residual direct and indirect impacts.

Short TitleAnnu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst.
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