One of the major objectives of the current expansion in bioenergy cropping is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions for environmental benefit. The cultivation of bioenergy and biofuel crops also affects biodiversity more directly, both positively and negatively. Ecological impact assessment methods for bioenergy projects (including changes to policy and land use) should address not simply changes to species abundance at field level, but include larger scale issues, including changes to landscape diversity, potential impacts to primary and secondary habitats and potential impacts on climate change. Such assessments require a correspondingly broad range of scientific methods, including modelling of climate and land use as well as the observation of biodiversity and landscape indicators. It is also possible to adopt evidence-based guidelines for good practice for situations where comprehensive assessments are not available. These might include favouring projects and policies that avoid gene flow to wild relatives of crops in centres of diversity, that do not result in invasion by the crop into other habitats, that enhance field-scale biodiversity, that increase landscape diversity, that do not threaten valued habitats within the local landscape, that promote the sustainable management of biodiverse habitats, that do not increase the risk of loss of primary habitats and that result in a proportionately large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The aim of this study is to show the impact of different assumptions and methodological choices on the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) performance of biofuels by providing the results for different key parameters on a consistent basis. These include co-products allocation or system expansion, N2O emissions from crop cultivation, conversion systems and co-product applications and direct land-use change emissions. The results show that the GHG performance of biofuels varies depending on the method applied and the system boundaries selected. Key factors include selected allocation procedures and the location of production and related yields, reference land and soil N2O emissions.
Transgenic modification of plants is a key enabling technology for developing sustainable biofeedstocks for biofuels production. Regulatory decisions and the wider acceptance and development of transgenic biofeedstock crops are considered from the context of science-based risk assessment. The risk assessment paradigm for transgenic biofeedstock crops is fundamentally no different from that of current generation transgenic crops, except that the focus of the assessment must consider the unique attributes of a given biofeedstock crop and its environmental release. For currently envisioned biofeedstock crops, particular emphasis in risk assessment will be given to characterization of altered metabolic profiles and their implications relative to non-target environmental effects and food safety; weediness and invasiveness when plants are modified for abiotic stress tolerance or are domesticated; and aggregate risk when plants are platforms for multi-product production. Robust risk assessments for transgenic biofeedstock crops are case-specific, initiated through problem formulation, and use tiered approaches for risk characterization.
In this paper we investigate the potential production and implications of a global biofuels industry. We develop alternative approaches to the introduction of land as an economic factor input, in value and physical terms, into a computable general equilibrium framework. Both approach allows us to parameterize biomass production in a manner consistent with agro-engineering information on yields and a ?second generation? cellulosic biomass conversion technology. We explicitly model land conversion from natural areas to agricultural use in two different ways: in one approach we introduce a land supply elasticity based on observed land supply responses and in the other we consider only the direct cost of conversion. We estimate biofuels production at the end of the century will reach 220 to 270 exajoules in a reference scenario and 320 to 370 exajoules under a global effort to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The version with the land supply elasticity allows much less conversion of land from natural areas, forcing intensification of production, especially on pasture and grazing land, whereas the pure conversion cost model leads to significant deforestation. The observed land conversion response we estimate may be a short-term response that does not fully reflect the effect of long-run pressure to convert land if rent differentials are sustained over 100 years. These different approaches emphasize the importance of reflecting the non-market value of land more fully in the modeling of the conversion decision.
Human actions are altering the terrestrial environment at unprecedented rates, magnitudes, and spatial scales. Landcover change stemming from human land uses represents a major source and a major element of global environmental change. Not only are the global-level data on landuse and land-cover change relatively poor, but we need a much better understanding of the underlying driving forces for these changes. Many forces have been proposed as significant, but single-factor explanations of land transformation have proved to be inadequate. How the human causes interact, and under what circumstances each is important, are questions needing systematic research. An international and interdisciplinary agenda is currently being developed to address these issues, through several closelyconnected foci of study. A division of the world according to common situations of environment, human driving forces, and land-cover dynamics will be followed by detailed study of the processes at work within each situation. The results will form the basis for a concurrent effort to develop a global land model that can offer projections of patterns of land transformation.
We quantify the emergence of biofuel markets and its impact on U.S. and world agriculture for the coming decade using the multi-market, multi-commodity international FAPRI (Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute) model. The model incorporates the trade-offs between biofuel, feed, and food production and consumption and international feedback effects of the emergence through world commodity prices and trade. We examine land allocation by type of crop, and pasture use for countries growing feedstock for ethanol (corn, sorghum, wheat, sugarcane, and other grains) and major crops competing with feedstock for land resources such as oilseeds. We shock the model with exogenous changes in ethanol demand, first in the United States, then in Brazil, China, the European Union-25, and India, and compute shock multipliers for land allocation decisions for crops and countries of interest. The multipliers show at the margin how sensitive land allocation is to the growing demand for ethanol. Land moves away from major crops and pasture competing for resources with feedstock crops. Because of the high U.S. tariff on ethanol, higher U.S. demand for ethanol translates into a U.S. ethanol production expansion. The latter has global effects on land allocation as higher coarse grain prices transmit worldwide. Changes in U.S. coarse grain prices also affect U.S. wheat and oilseed prices, which are all transmitted to world markets. In contrast, expansion in Brazil ethanol use and production chiefly affects land used for sugarcane production in Brazil and to a lesser extent in other sugarproducing countries, but with small impacts on other land uses in most countries.
Land-use changes are frequently indicated to be one of the main human-induced factors influencing the groundwater system. For land-use change, groundwater research has mainly focused on the change in water quality thereby neglecting changes in quantity. The objective of this paper is to assess the impact of land-use changes, from 2000 until 2020, on the hydrological balance and in particular on groundwater quantity, as results from a case study in the Kleine Nete basin, Belgium. New is that this study tests a methodology, which couples a land-use change model with a water balance and a steady-state groundwater model. Four future land-use scenarios (A1, A2, B1 and B2) based on the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) are modelled with the CLUE-S model. Water balance components, groundwater level and baseflow are simulated using the WetSpass model in conjunction with a steady-state MODFLOW groundwater flow model. Results show that the average recharge decreases with 2.9, 1.6, 1.8 and 0.8% for scenario A1, A2, B1 and B2, respectively, over the 20 covered years. The predicted reduction in recharge results in a small decrease of the average groundwater level in the basin, ranging from 2.5 cm for scenario A1 to 0.9 cm for scenario B2, and a reduction of the baseflow with maximum 2.3% and minimum 0.7% for scenario A1 and B2, respectively. Although these averages appear to indicate small changes in the groundwater system, spatial analysis shows that much larger changes are located near the major cities in the study area. Hence, spatial planning should take better account of effects of land-use change on the groundwater system and define mitigating actions for reducing the negative impacts of land-use change.
Land use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance. Worldwide changes to forests, farmlands, waterways, and air are being driven by the need to provide food, fiber, water, and shelter to more than six billion people. Global croplands, pastures, plantations, and urban areas have expanded in recent decades, accompanied by large increases in energy, water, and fertilizer consumption, along with considerable losses of biodiversity. Such changes in land use have enabled humans to appropriate an increasing share of the planet?s resources, but they also potentially undermine the capacity of ecosystems to sustain food production, maintain freshwater and forest resources, regulate climate and air quality, and ameliorate infectious diseases. We face the challenge of managing trade-offs between immediate human needs and maintaining the capacity of the biosphere to provide goods and services in the long term.
We highlight the complexity of land-use/cover change and propose a framework for a more general understanding of the issue, with emphasis on tropical regions. The review summarizes recent estimates on changes in cropland, agricultural intensification, tropical deforestation, pasture expansion, and urbanization and identifies the still unmeasured land-cover changes. Climate-driven land-cover modifications interact with land-use changes. Land-use change is driven by synergetic factor combinations of resource scarcity leading to an increase in the pressure of production on resources, changing opportunities created by markets, outside policy intervention, loss of adaptive capacity, and changes in social organization and attitudes. The changes in ecosystem goods and services that result from land-use change feed back on the drivers of land-use change. A restricted set of dominant pathways of land-use change is identified. Land-use change can be understood using the concepts of complex adaptive systems and transitions. Integrated, place-based research on land-use/land-cover change requires a combination of the agent-based systems and narrative perspectives of understanding. We argue in this paper that a systematic analysis of local-scale land-use change studies, conducted over a range of timescales, helps to uncover general principles that provide an explanation and prediction of new land-use changes.
Greenhouse gas release from land use change (the socalled ?carbon debt?) has been identified as a potentially significant contributor to the environmental profile of biofuels. The time required for biofuels to overcome this carbon debt duetolandusechangeandbeginprovidingcumulativegreenhouse gas benefits is referred to as the ?payback period? and has been estimated to be 100-1000 years depending on the specific ecosystem involved in the land use change event. Two mechanisms for land use change exist: ?direct? land use change, in which the land use change occurs as part of a specific supply chain for a specific biofuel production facility, and ?indirect? land use change, in which market forces act to produce land use change in land that is not part of a specific biofuel supply chain, including, for example, hypothetical land use change on another continent. Existing land use change studies did not consider many of the potentially important variables that might affect the greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels. We examine here several variables that have not yet been addressed in land use change studies. Our analysis shows that cropping management is a key factor in estimating greenhouse gas emissions associated with land use change. Sustainable cropping management practices (no-till and no-till plus cover crops) reduce the payback period to 3 years for the grassland conversion case and to 14 years for the forest conversion case. It is significant that no-till and cover crop practices also yield higher soil organic carbon (SOC) levels in corn fields derived from former grasslands or forests than the SOC levels that result if these grasslands or forests are allowed to continue undisturbed. The United States currently does not hold any of its domestic industries responsible for its greenhouse gas emissions. Thus the greenhouse gas standards established for renewable fuels such as corn ethanol in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 set a higher standard for that industry than for any other domestic industry. Holding domestic industries responsible for the environmental performance of their own supply chain, over which they may exert some control, is perhaps desirable (direct land use change in this case). However, holding domestic industries responsible for greenhouse gas emissions by their competitors worldwide through market forces (via indirect land use change in this case) is fraught with a host of ethical and pragmatic difficulties. Greenhouse gas emissions associated with indirect land use change depend strongly on assumptions regarding social and environmental responsibilities for actions taken, cropping management approaches, and time frames involved, among other issues.