Review Highlights Knowledge Gaps Surrounding Biofuels and Land Use Change

Dec 09, 2010, 09:21 ET from Hart Energy Publishing, LLLP

HOUSTON, Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The development of biofuels has increased exponentially over the past decade, and will continue to do so as many countries seek to move away from dependence on fossil fuels. However, increasing use of biofuels raises serious questions about changing land use – and policymakers have found it hard to keep pace with the issues involved.

A new paper, Biofuels and Land Use Change: A Science and Policy Review, prepared by science and agriculture organization CABI and Hart Energy Consulting, reviews key research that has been conducted on the subject and analyses where the gaps in knowledge lie.

It is clear that several aspects of biofuel production may work against the very goals that biofuels policies are trying to achieve – the reduction of greenhouse gases and protection of scarce and valuable natural resources. The report recommends further monitoring, experimenting and modeling in different locations in order to assess the true impact of changing land use to accommodate biofuel production.

Tammy Klein, Assistant Vice President of Hart Energy Consulting noted that, "There is a need to establish standard methodologies to evaluate the wide range of effects, direct and indirect, that ensue from the growing global biofuels market. This would enable much greater confidence when comparing future studies and enable decision-makers to make more informed judgments."

Marginal, abandoned, degraded and unused lands are really the only possible sources of significant land for biofuel expansion. However, they are rarely quantified. The report asks how much of this type of land is available and what problems would need to be overcome to bring these lands into production.

Finally, the report calls for the establishment of effective land-use management and best agriculture practice policies for biofuels feedstock crops.  

"The switch away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives will have unforeseen consequences, especially for highly populated resource-poor countries," said Janny Vos, Business Development Manager of CABI. "At present the role of biofuels in this process is unclear. We hope that this review goes some way towards identifying the questions that need to be asked about land use change, and the areas in which we need further research."

The report can be found at the Biofuels Information Exchange portal. Questions on the report and other biofuels market research can be directed to Tammy Klein at or + 1.701.323.0417.

Hart Energy Consulting is a division of Hart Energy Publishing. Hart Energy Publishing, LLLP provides specialized data/information products and member-only services to targeted audiences worldwide and ranks among the leading providers of news, data and analysis for the global energy industry. Its core publishing and consulting expertise has been extended to online products (databases, maps) and services (Web sites, market information) as well as industry conferences and exhibitions. Hart Energy clients derive from the energy industry, the financial and investment community, engineering and automotive industries, utilities, leading NGOs and the world's major governments.

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