Biofuels expansion in Africa may impact rainforests, wetlands
mongabay.com
May 28, 2008




Biofuel feedstock expansion in Africa will likely come at the expense of ecologically-sensitive lands, reports a new analysis presented by Wetlands International at the Convention of Biological Diversity in Bonn.

The study, titled Biofuel production in Africa, suggests that complex land rights coupled with limited availability of prime agricultural lands in Africa will likely drive biofuel development into rainforests and wetlands resulting in degradation of important ecosystem services. Further, the reports warns, biofuel production may consume large quantities of water, cause erosion and increase demand for fertilizer and pesticides.

Still Wetlands International says that biofuel production can benefit Africa: shifting fuel demands away from fossil fuels towards ethanol and biodiesel could provide "better energy security, improved trade balance and create added value" as well as stimulate employment. The report argues that certification schemes for biofuels produced in environmentally and socially responsible ways could provide key incentives for the continent.

"Biofuel production can have positive socio-economic effects on the population of African wetlands, provided that production is carefully managed by governments and companies and monitored by certification schemes and non-governmental organizations," the report states. "Careful management of biofuel feedstock expansion is essential. Several conditions, such as effective land use planning, comprehensive biofuel policies, accountability mechanisms for producers, raising awareness, and sound agricultural management practices can help to mitigate the risks and promote the benefits."

Biofuel production in Africa




DR Congo has great potential for biofuels says U.N. official January 9, 2008
A UN economist is touting the potential of DR Congo for industrial biofuels production, reports Reuters. In a telephone interview, Dr Schmidhuber said the worn-torn country could devote millions of acres for oil palm, soy, and other biofuel feedstocks.

Tropical forests face huge threat from industrial agriculture December 5, 2007
With forest conversion for large-scale agriculture rapidly emerging as a leading driver of tropical deforestation, a new report from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) suggests the trend is likely to continue with Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Peru, and Colombia containing 75 percent of the world's forested land that is highly suitable for industrial agriculture expansion. Nevertheless the study identifies forests that may be best suited (low population density, unsuitable climate and soils) for "Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) initiatives which compensate countries for preserving forest lands in exchange for carbon credits.

Returns from carbon offsets could beat palm oil in Congo DRC December 4, 2007
A proposal to pay the Democratic of Congo (DRC) for reducing deforestation could add 15-50 percent to the amount of international aid given to the warn-torn country, reports a new study published by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). The funds would help alleviate rural poverty while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting threatened biodiversity.



CITATION:
mongabay.com (May 28, 2008).

Biofuels expansion in Africa may impact rainforests, wetlands.

http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0528-wetlands.html