Information on bioenergy and wildlife.
- 15-17 August 2011, Sioux Falls, SD, USA: America's Grasslands Conference (Themes: agriculture, Conservation Reserve Program, grasslands, species)
- 3-7 July 2010, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: 24th International Congress for Conservation Biology. Conference Theme: "Conservation for a Changing Planet". Organized by the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB). (Themes: conservation, environment, species, sustainable development)
- Is Bioenergy Expansion Harmful to Wildlife? 3 April 2012 by ScienceDaily: "Despite the predicted environmental benefits of biofuels, converting land to grow bioenergy crops may harm native wildlife. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig [ Germany ] have developed a way to study the effects of increased energy crop cultivation on farmland bird populations."
- "'The Skylark is an indicator species for agricultural areas because it occupies many habitats of the wider countryside around the globe, breeds on the ground within fields and feeds mostly on insects' notes lead researcher, Jan Engel. 'Improving the habitat suitability for Skylark, accordingly, would improve conservation of natural vegetation, insects, and other ground breeding farmland bird species.'"
- "Mr. Engel and his colleagues developed a computer model that evaluated the habitat requirements of Skylark in a variety of bioenergy cultivation scenarios. The study, published in Global Change Biology Bioenergy, found that bioenergy crop expansion will not harm Skylark populations if field sizes are low, many crop types are present, and small natural areas, known as Integrated Biodiversity Areas, are included within the landscape. 
- Biofuel Research Suffers From Gaps, 20 January 2012 by Chemical & Engineering News: "After a review of a decade’s worth of biofuels research, scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency have concluded that significant knowledge gaps will likely prevent experts from adequately assessing biofuels’ full environmental impacts....While researchers have paid substantial attention to greenhouse gas emissions, the new study says, they have focused little on how the production and use of biofuels affects biodiversity and human health."
- "'The last 10 years or so of research may have left us short of understanding what biofuels really may do to global economies, the environment, and society,' says Caroline Ridley, an ecologist with the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, in Arlington, Va., who led the study."
- "The team found that the most common topics, with a few hundred papers each, were fuel production, feedstock production, and greenhouse gas emissions. Near the bottom of the list, 80 studies examined how biofuel production affects biodiversity, for example how local species fare after farmers clear large stretches of land to grow corn, switchgrass, palm oil, or other biofuel feedstocks. And only 15 studied the human health impacts of increasing levels of air pollutants produced by burning biofuel ethanol."
- Access the study, Biofuels: Network Analysis of the Literature Reveals Key Environmental and Economic Unknowns
- Biofuels land grab in Kenya's Tana Delta fuels talk of war, 2 July 2011 by The Guardian: "[E]viction of the [Gamba Manyatta] villagers to make way for a sugar cane plantation is part of a wider land grab going on in Kenya's Tana Delta that is not only pushing people off plots they have farmed for generations, stealing their water resources and raising tribal tensions that many fear will escalate into war, but also destroying a unique wetland habitat that is home to hundreds of rare and spectacular birds."
- "The irony is that most of the land is being taken for allegedly environmental reasons – to allow private companies to grow water-thirsty sugar cane and jatropha for the biofuels so much in demand in the west, where green legislation, designed to ease carbon dioxide emissions, is requiring they are mixed with petrol and diesel."
- "The delta, one of Kenya's last wildernesses and one of the most important bird habitats in Africa, is the flood plain of the Tana river, which flows 1,014km from Mount Kenya to the Indian Ocean."
- "The delta's people are trying to fight their own government over the huge blocks of land being turned over to companies including the Canadian company, Bedford Biofuels, which was this year granted a licence by the Kenyan environmental regulator for a 10,000-hectare jatropha 'pilot' project. A UK-based firm, G4 Industries Ltd, has been awarded a licence for 28,000 hectares."
- Jatropha biofuel 'produces six times greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels', 22 March 2011 by The Telegraph: "Plantation of a shrub once hailed as the great new hope for biofuels will result in up to six times the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels, according to a new report."
- "Jatropha has been planted across Asia in countries under pressure from the West to reduce emissions from the destruction of rainforests, car exhausts and energy production from coal-burning power plants."
- "But the study for the anti-poverty agency ActionAid and the RSPB of a proposed 50,000 hectare jatropha plantation development in the Dakatcha woodlands of Kenya, near Malindi, found that emissions in producing the biofuel would be 2.5 to six times higher than the fossil fuel equivalents. The woodland hosts globally endangered bird life."
- Download the ActionAid report, Life Cycle Assessment of Refined Vegetable Oil and Biodiesel from Jatropha Grown in Dakatcha Woodlands of Kenya (PDF file)
- Environmental Defense Fund and Forest Guild Report Warns Against Stripping Dead Wood From Southeast U.S. Forests, 17 February 2011 by Biofuels Journal: "A report released by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Forest Guild says reducing the dead wood in a forest may affect its ability to support wildlife, provide clean water, sequester carbon and regenerate diverse plants."
- "'Southern forests have less dead wood than other regions of the United States, yet it plays a crucial role,' said Zander Evans, research director of The Forest Guild."
- "'More than 55 mammal species, more than 20 bird species, as well as numerous reptiles, amphibians, arthropods and gastropods rely on dead wood in the Southeast.'"
- "'Landowners and foresters should incorporate ecological science into discussions about harvests that could affect this often neglected part of our forests.'"
- "To see the full report, go to Ecology of Dead Wood in the Southeast' (PDF File)"
- The only thing ‘green’ about NASCAR’s switch to corn ethanol is the cash, 29 October 2010 by Donald Carr: "In a move that USA Today says "could be regarded as economically motivated as well as environmentally aware," NASCAR will adopt an ethanol blend of fuel beginning with the 2011 Daytona 500."
- "This bit of news was welcomed heartily by the corn ethanol lobby, which is facing the prospect of the ethanol tax credit subsidy expiring at the end of the year as well as consumer confusion at fueling stations across the country, as ethanol blends increase only for specific model-year vehicles."
- "Here at the Environmental Working Group, we are certain that using corn ethanol as an alternative to gasoline is hardly a sustainable solution to our energy needs. We know that between 2005 and 2009, U.S. taxpayers spent $17 billion to subsidize corn ethanol blends in gasoline, an outlay that produced a paltry reduction in overall oil consumption equal to a 1.1 mile-per-gallon increase in fleetwide fuel economy."
- "We're sure that corn ethanol production pollutes fresh-water sources in the Midwest. We know that there are serious concerns about ethanol plants and their impact on the environment. We know corn production for ethanol expands the dead zone in the Gulf. We also know it has led to obliteration of wildlife habitat."
- Corn Crowds Out Wildlife in Prairie Pothole Region, 13 January 2010 press release by National Wildlife Federation: "A new report shows how government incentives for corn ethanol are driving farmers to shift land into corn production, resulting in significant decreases in grassland bird populations throughout the fragile Prairie Pothole Region. The study analyzes the current and potential impacts of increased corn ethanol production on wildlife and habitat in the Prairie Pothole states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota."
- "According to the report, U.S. ethanol capacity has grown almost 200 percent since the passage of the 2005 Energy Bill, which mandated a large increase in domestic ethanol production."
- "By identifying areas with the most dramatic land-use changes in Prairie Pothole states, researchers were able to see where there are 'hotspots' of increased corn plantings and habitat loss." The study's "results showed that counties with high increases in corn plantings had significant declines of nearly 30 percent in populations of sensitive grassland birds between 2005 and 2008."
- Download the full report:
- Madagascar’s Political Chaos Threatens Conservation Gains, 4 January 2010 by Yale Environment 360: "Since the government's collapse after a coup last March, Madagascar's rainforests have been plundered for their precious wood and unique wildlife. But now there are a few encouraging signs, as officials promise a crackdown on illegal logging and ecotourists begin to return to the island."
- In Search of Wildlife-friendly Biofuels: Could Native Prairie Plants Be the Answer, 29 September 2009 by NewsWise/Michigan Technological University: "The unintended consequence of crop-based biofuels may be the loss of wildlife habitat, particularly that of the birds who call this country’s grasslands home, say researchers from Michigan Technological University and The Nature Conservancy."
- In an article in BioScience, researchers "analyze the impacts on wildlife of the burgeoning conversion of grasslands to corn for ethanol production".
- "Most of the recent expansion in land planted to corn involves land previously used to grow other crops. But there is evidence that more and more land that had been enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is also being converted to crop production."
- "What’s the solution? There are at least two ways to produce bioenergy without destroying wildlife [and habitat], the researchers say. One is to use biomass sources that don’t require additional land, such as agricultural residues and other wastes from municipal, animal, food and forestry industries."
- "Another is to grow native perennials such as switchgrass and big bluestem. The natural diversity of prairie plants offers many benefits, including increased carbon storage in the soil, erosion control and the maintenance of insect diversity, which does double duty by providing food for birds and helping to pollinate nearby crops."
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What is bioenergy? | Benefits/Risks | Who is doing what?