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Indicators to support environmental sustainability of bioenergy systems

Indicators are needed to assess environmental sustainability of bioenergy systems. Effective indicators
will help in the quantification of benefits and costs of bioenergy options and resource uses. We identify
19 measurable indicators for soil quality, water quality and quantity, greenhouse gases, biodiversity, air
quality, and productivity, building on existing knowledge and on national and international programs
that are seeking ways to assess sustainable bioenergy. Together, this suite of indicators is hypothesized
to reflect major environmental effects of diverse feedstocks, management practices, and post-production
processes. The importance of each indicator is identified. Future research relating to this indicator suite is
discussed, including field testing, target establishment, and application to particular bioenergy systems.
Coupled with such efforts, we envision that this indicator suite can serve as a basis for the practical
evaluation of environmental sustainability in a variety of bioenergy systems.