‘Do not use existing agricultural land for the growing demand for bio-energy and bio-materials but use ‘remaining’ land’, that is the conclusion of an international research group. The interdisciplinary Think Tank of Eleven from seven European countries and the United States published these results last week in the online journal BioRisk.
By looking at various factors such as impact on the environment, economic and social constraints, but also to the efficient use of remaining land for bio-energy, scientists have put down a framework for the available land for bio-energy feedstock production.
Remaining land, or surplus-land, is described by the group as land that is not currently used for food, feed, fiber and other renewable resources as a result of poor soil fertility. Land suitable for bio-feedstock production requires new and creative insights, says lead author Dauber.
Even land that is currently not needed for food as a result of intensified production is eligible. In their article the authors that there is still much uncertainty about what exactly is land that ‘remains’.
Optionally used lands should be ecologically and socially sustainable. This does not include old or tropical forests, wetlands and other areas which are untouched by mankind. Therefore, a thorough global reassessment of available land is needed before making it available for bio-energy crops. Only in this way could the bio-energy sector become a more sustainable industry, says Dauber.