Biofuel Plantations on Forested Lands: Double Jeopardy for Biodiversity and Climate

Biofuel Plantations on Forested Lands: Double Jeopardy for Biodiversity and Climate Abstract: The growing demand for biofuels is promoting the expansion of a number of agricultural commodities, including oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). Oil‐palm plantations cover over 13 million ha, primarily in Southeast Asia, where they have directly or indirectly replaced tropical rainforest. We explored the impact of the spread of oil‐palm plantations on greenhouse gas emission and biodiversity. We assessed changes in carbon stocks with changing land use and compared this with the amount of fossil‐fuel carbon emission avoided through its replacement by biofuel carbon. We estimated it would take between 75 and 93 years for the carbon emissions saved through use of biofuel to compensate for the carbon lost through forest conversion, depending on how the forest was cleared. If the original habitat was peatland, carbon balance would take more than 600 years. Conversely, planting oil palms on degraded grassland would lead to a net removal of carbon within 10 years. These estimates have associated uncertainty, but their magnitude and relative proportions seem credible. We carried out a meta‐analysis of published faunal studies that compared forest with oil palm. We found that plantations supported species‐poor communities containing few forest species. Because no published data on flora were available, we present results from our sampling of plants in oil palm and forest plots in Indonesia. Although the species richness of pteridophytes was higher in plantations, they held few forest species. Trees, lianas, epiphytic orchids, and indigenous palms were wholly absent from oil‐palm plantations. The majority of individual plants and animals in oil‐palm plantations belonged to a small number of generalist species of low conservation concern. As countries strive to meet obligations to reduce carbon emissions under one international agreement (Kyoto Protocol), they may not only fail to meet their obligations under another (Convention on Biological Diversity) but may actually hasten global climate change. Reducing deforestation is likely to represent a more effective climate‐change mitigation strategy than converting forest for biofuel production, and it may help nations meet their international commitments to reduce biodiversity loss. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Conservation Biology Wiley

Loading next page...
 
/lp/wiley/biofuel-plantations-on-forested-lands-double-jeopardy-for-biodiversity-8DnCMth97H
Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
©2008 Society for Conservation Biology
ISSN
0888-8892
eISSN
1523-1739
D.O.I.
10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.01096.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract: The growing demand for biofuels is promoting the expansion of a number of agricultural commodities, including oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). Oil‐palm plantations cover over 13 million ha, primarily in Southeast Asia, where they have directly or indirectly replaced tropical rainforest. We explored the impact of the spread of oil‐palm plantations on greenhouse gas emission and biodiversity. We assessed changes in carbon stocks with changing land use and compared this with the amount of fossil‐fuel carbon emission avoided through its replacement by biofuel carbon. We estimated it would take between 75 and 93 years for the carbon emissions saved through use of biofuel to compensate for the carbon lost through forest conversion, depending on how the forest was cleared. If the original habitat was peatland, carbon balance would take more than 600 years. Conversely, planting oil palms on degraded grassland would lead to a net removal of carbon within 10 years. These estimates have associated uncertainty, but their magnitude and relative proportions seem credible. We carried out a meta‐analysis of published faunal studies that compared forest with oil palm. We found that plantations supported species‐poor communities containing few forest species. Because no published data on flora were available, we present results from our sampling of plants in oil palm and forest plots in Indonesia. Although the species richness of pteridophytes was higher in plantations, they held few forest species. Trees, lianas, epiphytic orchids, and indigenous palms were wholly absent from oil‐palm plantations. The majority of individual plants and animals in oil‐palm plantations belonged to a small number of generalist species of low conservation concern. As countries strive to meet obligations to reduce carbon emissions under one international agreement (Kyoto Protocol), they may not only fail to meet their obligations under another (Convention on Biological Diversity) but may actually hasten global climate change. Reducing deforestation is likely to represent a more effective climate‐change mitigation strategy than converting forest for biofuel production, and it may help nations meet their international commitments to reduce biodiversity loss.

Journal

Conservation BiologyWiley

Published: Apr 1, 2009

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create folders to
organize your research

Export folders, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off