policy principle - Essay Biofuels and Biodiversity...

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Essay Biofuels and Biodiversity: Principles for Creating Better Policies for Biofuel Production MARTHA J. GROOM, † ELIZABETH M. GRAY,‡ AND PATRICIA A. TOWNSEND† email [email protected] †Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1800, U.S.A. ‡The Nature Conservancy, 1917 First Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, U.S.A. Abstract: Biofuels are a new priority in efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels; nevertheless, the rapid increase in production of biofuel feedstock may threaten biodiversity. There are general principles that should be used in developing guidelines for certifying biodiversity-friendly biofuels. First, biofuel feedstocks should be grown with environmentally safe and biodiversity-friendly agricultural practices. The sustainability of any biofuel feedstock depends on good growing practices and sound environmental practices throughout the fuel-production life cycle. Second, the ecological footprint of a biofuel, in terms of the land area needed to grow sufficient quantities of the feedstock, should be minimized. The best alternatives appear to be fuels of the future, especially fuels derived from microalgae. Third, biofuels that can sequester carbon or that have a negative or zero carbon balance when viewed over the entire production life cycle should be given high priority. Corn-based ethanol is the worst among the alternatives that are available at present, although this is the biofuel that is most advanced for commercial production in the United States. We urge aggressive pursuit of alternatives to corn as a biofuel feedstock. Conservation biologists can significantly broaden and deepen efforts to develop sustainable fuels by playing active roles in pursuing research on biodiversity-friendly biofuel production practices and by helping define biodiversity-friendly biofuel certification standards. Keywords: biodiversity-friendly biofuels, biofuels, ecological footprint, feedstock, microalgae Biocombustibles y Biodiversidad: Principios para la Creaci´on de Mejores Pol´ ıticas para la Producci´on de Biocom- bustible Resumen: Los biocombustibles son una nueva prioridad en los esfuerzos para reducir la dependencia en combustibles f´osiles. Sin embargo, el r´apido incremento en la producci´on de materias primas para los biocombustibles puede amenazar a la biodiversidad. Hay principios generales que deber´ ıan ser considerados para el desarrollo de directrices para la certificaci´on de biocombustibles amigables con la biodiversidad. Primero, las materias primas para los biocombustibes deber´ ıan ser cultivados con pr´acticas agr´ ıcolas seguras ambientalmente y amigables con la biodiversidad. La sustentabilidad de cualquier materia prima para biocombustibles depende de las buenas pr´acticas de cultivos y de pr´acticas ambientales sanas a lo largo del ciclo de vida de la producci´on de combustible. Segundo, la huella ecol´ogica de un biocombustible, en t´
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policy principle - Essay Biofuels and Biodiversity...

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