Many countries are currently looking at growing high-yielding crops for the
production of biofuels as alternatives to traditional fuels (petrol and diesel) to
address imminent shortages and reduce impacts of climate change. If these
initiatives are not carefully assessed, however, promoting the cultivation of some
popular species for biofuel production will increase two of the major causes of
biodiversity loss on the planet: clearing and conversion of yet more natural areas
for monocultures, and invasion by non-native species.
Habitat conversion is already the leading cause of biodiversity loss worldwide, and
limiting the enthusiastic cultivation of new crops to areas already converted is not
an easy or popular task. The issue addressed here, though, is that a number of the
most commonly recommended species for biofuel production are also major
invasive species in many parts of the world. Thus, they need to be assessed for the
likelihood of invasion before being cultivated on a large-scale for biofuels
production. Some of these species are spread by birds, small mammals and other
animals, making their control difficult or impossible, with impacts increasing over
time and long-term production prone to more financial losses than gains.
This note provides basic information and recommendations for project proposals on
biofuels using species that have a history of invasion and require careful
management if they are to be used on a large scale and not contribute to natural
habitat and biodiversity loss.
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