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Grain Sorghum © North Carolina Biofuels Campus, Oxford

Energy gained from plant biomass, i.e. bioenergy, is one of several renewable energy sources that can reduce GHG emissions. Many countries aim to increase the proportion of the total energy demand supplied from bioenergy. This has led to a significant increase in the production of bioenergy crops.

However, bioenergy production is limited in the extent to which it can offer a sustainable response to the world’s demand for energy. The use of land and water for the cultivation of bioenergy feedstocks may compete with other possibilities to use the same resources, such as food production. The conversion of land for bioenergy purposes can harm biodiversity and ecosystem services. Some of the species used for bioenergy production have a high potential for becoming invasive. Moreover, whether or not the use of bioenergy represents a net reduction of GHG emissions strongly depends on the direct and indirect land-use change that it involves, production conditions and the distance between the production site and end users.

UNEP-WCMC is working on a number of issues related to bioenergy, including its (potential) impacts on biodiversity and questions surrounding sustainability. Specifically, UNEP-WCMC provides technical support to the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) in the development of sustainability criteria and indicators for bioenergy production, and has reviewed the impacts of biofuels on biodiversity.


The impacts of biofuel production on biodiversity:A review of the current literature