New research confirms that EU biofuel targets will speed up the rate of extinction of plants and animals.
The negative impacts of the increasing demand for biofuels on food prices and their real impacts on the climate have attracted a lot of attention over the past couple of years. However what this means for biodiversity has only marginally being looked at, mostly as anecdotal evidence: e.g. the threat to orangutans from expanding palm oil plantations.
But now the EU Commission has published a new report that forms part of its own impact assessment of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) from biofuel targets.
(The one the EU has been holding under wraps for months amid rumours that publication could "kill the biofuels industry")
For the first time the report looks at the wider biodiversity impacts of indirect land use change from biofuel demand, modelling what habitats will ultimately be converted to make way for biofuels plantations.
The result show that of converted habitats
42% would be forests (primary and managed)
42% would be pasture
16% would be savannah and grasslands
In total 17,000 km2 of natural habitats could be converted to farmland as a result of demand for biofuels in the EU. None of this will be protected under current EU legislation for biofuels.
The report concludes "the transition to cropland will cause an 85.3% decrease in the MSA (mean species abundance) index in affected areas. This result, in line with the conclusions of the GLOBIO3 study, shows that the extensive use of bioenergy crops will increase the rate in loss of biodiversity"
This means for the first time the EU has openly confirmed our warnings that on top of doing little or nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions EU biofuel targets will also speed up species extinction.
Please tell Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, to stop support for the use of biofuels and imported biomass in power stations.