Landscape implications of bioenergy feedstock choices are significant and depend on land-use practices and their environmental impacts. Although land-use changes and carbon emissions associated with bioenergy feedstock production are dynamic and complicated, lignocellulosic feedstocks may offer opportunities that enhance sustainability when compared to other transportation fuel alternatives. For bioenergy sustainability, major drivers and concerns revolve around energy security, food production, land productivity, soil carbon and erosion, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, air quality, and water quantity and quality. The many implications of bioenergy feedstock choices require several indicators at multiple scales to provide a more complete accounting of effects. Ultimately, the long-term sustainability of bioenergy feedstock resources (as well as food supplies) throughout the world depends on land-use practices and landscape dynamics. Land-management decisions often invoke trade-offs among potential environmental effects and social and economic factors as well as future opportunities for resource use. The hypothesis being addressed in this paper is that sustainability of bioenergy feedstock production can be achieved via appropriately designed crop residue and perennial lignocellulosic systems. We find that decision makers need scientific advancements and adequate data that both provide quantitative and qualitative measures of the effects of bioenergy feedstock choices at different spatial and temporal scales and allow fair comparisons among available options for renewable liquid fuels.
Peer-reviewed letter written in response to a March 11, 2015, letter to US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy (http://bit.ly/1HsSaWf), in which the Ecological Society of America objected to EPA’s proposal that sustainably harvested woody biomass could reduce carbon emissions. Citing a November 2014 EPA memorandum (known as the McCabe memo; http://1.usa.gov/1zMeZf2), the Ecological Society letter argued that the EPA’s stance would undermine federal efforts to “deter rapid deforestation, lower carbon emissions, and mitigate the effects of global climate change”.
The production of biobased feedstocks (i.e., plant– or algal-based material use for transportation fuels, heat, power and bioproducts) for energy consumption has been expanding rapidly in recent years. Biomass now accounts for 4.1% of total U.S. primary energy production. Unfortunately, there are considerable knowledge gaps relative to implications of this industry expansion for wildlife.
The Wildlife Society convened an expert committee to analyze the latest scientific literature on the effects of growing, managing, and harvesting feedstocks for bioenergy on wildlife and wildlife habitat, and provide answers to questions and variables affecting bioenergy development and wildlife so that site managers might better predict consequences of managing bioenergy feedstocks.
This Technical Review is organized with respect to an ecosystems approach and tries to identify key biomass management practices within those systems, including agricultural lands and croplands; grassland ecosystems and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands; forest ecosystems; and algae and aquatic feedstocks. A PDF of this review can be downloaded for free at the link below.