Biofuel instead of rain forests not a winner

The most comprehensive analysis of the impact of oil palm plantations in tropical forests on climate and biodiversity was undertaken by an international research team of botanists, ecologists and engineers from seven nations. 60370-tropical-rain-forest

The study reveals that it would take at least 75 years for the carbon emissions saved through the use of biofuels to compensate for the carbon lost through forest conversion. And if the original habitat was carbon-rich peatland, the carbon balance would take more than 600 years.

Planting biofuels on degraded Imperata grasslands instead of tropical rain forests would lead to a net removal of carbon in 10 years, the authors found

“Biofuels are a bad deal for forests, wildlife and the climate if they replace tropical rain forests,” said co-author Dr. Neil Burgess of World Wildlife Fund. “In fact, they hasten climate change by removing one of the world’s most efficient carbon storage tools – intact tropical rain forests.”

Tropical forests in their native state help reduce global warming more than plants grass crops in the clear cut former rain forest land. Folks this should be a no brainer!

Grasses verses trees what helps the environment more? -Mother Nature

“Our analysis found that it would take 75 to 93 years to see any benefits to the climate from biofuel plantations on converted tropical forestlands,” said lead author Finn Danielsen of Denmark’s Nordic Agency for Development and Ecology (NORDECO).

“Until then, we will be releasing carbon into the atmosphere by cutting tropical rain forests, in addition to losing valuable plant and animal species. It’s even worse on peatlands, which contain so much carbon that it would be 600 years before we see any benefits whatsoever.”

Biofuels like fossil fuels come from plants, burning these fuels pollute and are major contributors to global warming.

Using palm oil, a biofuel, directly or indirectly replaced tropical rain forests, and kills the animals and plants that lived on the land that was cleared to grow palm oil or for the sale of trees for the building industry. This is endangering species such as rhinos,  orangutans,  other forest creatures and the trees and plants they depended upon. The end result is the loss of carbon stored in trees and peatlands and vital air cleaning and oxygenating these forest trees and plants were providing are greatly diminished. On palm oil plantations, plants  like lianas, orchids and native palms, are completely absent and the animal species that depend on them are gone.

Biofuels are a bad deal for forests, wildlife and the climate if they replace tropical rain forests,” said co-author Dr. Neil Burgess of World Wildlife Fund. “In fact, they hasten climate change by removing one of the world’s most efficient carbon storage tools – intact tropical rain forests.”

Common global standards for sustainable production of biofuels is needed.

“Subsidies to purchase tropical biofuels are given by countries in Europe and North America supposedly to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from transport” said Danielsen. It does not balance nature. “While these countries strive to meet their obligations under one international agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, they encourage others to increase their emissions as well as breach their obligations under another agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity.”

For fauna, only one in six forest species can survive in plantations, the study finds. Most of these are common and widespread species.

Conserving the existing forests  that contain more than half of the Earth’s terrestrial species and Southeast Asia’s forests are among the richest in species. They also store around 46 percent of the world’s living terrestrial carbon and 25 percent of total net global carbon emissions may stem from deforestation.

This is a problem  in South East Asia and in Latin America forests are being cleared for soy production which is even less efficient at biofuel production compared to oil palm. Reducing deforestation is a much more effective way for countries to reduce climate change while also meeting their obligations to protect biodiversity.”
Biofuel Plantations On Tropical Forestlands Bad For Biodiversity -Staff Writers    Washington DC (SPX) Dec 03, 2008

http://www.biofueldaily.com/reports/Biofuel_Plantations_On_Tropical_Forestlands_Bad_For_Biodiversity_999.html

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