Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Invasiveness of biofuels - release and related report

biofuel watch - Invasiveness of biofuels - release and related report


Invasiveness of biofuel crops and potential harm
to natural habitats and native species

Several factors prompted the development of biofuel cropping within agroecosystems. These
include a growth in population and energy demand, geopolitical instability linked to demand for fossil
fuels, concerns about global warming and calls for 'carbon neutral' energy. In anthropogenic
manipulated agroecosystem, many factors multiply the creation of newly available niches.
Consequently, the occurrence and establishment of invasive alien species with the potential to spread
and cause harm, or constrain elements of semi-natural habitat or vegetation remnants may increase.
The invasiveness of weedy germplasm may also be accelerated by the presence of cultivated species,
escaping from fields through crop movement or on livestock. This risk of invasion is likely to rise in
the future use of agricultural land for widespread and intensive cultivation of crops for energy
production. In fact, in the recent past, many government reports, including the Convention on
Biological Diversity and scientific literature have highlighted the potential impact that biofuel crops
may have on natural, semi-natural and agriculture ecosystems. The characteristics of energy crop
species, of their habitats, of cropping systems and of farm subsidies are a “weedy merging
combination” that could transform farmland into a source of new invasive species that may spread into
vegetation remnant, ultimately harming the functionality and biodiversity within agroecosystems.
Being the crop escape a consequence of the farming system a precautionary principle must be taken
into account even if no immediate evidence of halt to native habitats is present.

Media release 21.12.2010 <>

Biofuels potential harm to biodiversity. A European report and recommendation to hamper crop invasiveness

Biofuels and their invasive potential is a problem being address worldwide. A report was written for the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (known as the Council of Europe-Bern Convention) by the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) - an agency led by the Italian Ministry for the Environment.
Following the report the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, worried that the increase of biofuel cropping systems may lead to cultivation escapes of invasive taxa with subsequent negative effect on native biological diversity, adopted advices to reduce impacts, of potentially invasive alien plants being used as biofuel crops, on species biodiversity and natural ecosystems.
The Recommendation, warns that some biofuel crops may invade areas outside cultivated fields, and in so doing may impact on native biodiversity. The Council of Europe, made advices to reduce potential invasiveness of alien plants being used as biofuel crops. It is important, stated the group of experts, to bring in pre-cultivation screening for each proposed genotype and region. In addition new cultivation criteria to limit the dispersal and recruitment capacity of the invasive crops need to be introduced. Without these measures, escaped biofuel crops may cause loss of native biodiversity and farmland functionality.
Click here <>  to read the report 'Invasiveness of Biofuel Crops and Potential Harm to Natural Habitats and Native Species Report'.
Click here <>  to read the Bern Convention published “Recommendation No 141 (2009) of the Standing Committee, adopted on 26 November 2009, on potentially invasive alien plants being used as biofuel crops”.



Report <>



Recommendation 141/2009 <>




Sweet Sorghum crops within Mediterranean Landscape

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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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