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Land-use change from food to energy: meta-analysis unravels effects of bioenergy on biodiversity and cultural ecosystem services

Land-use change from food to energy: meta-analysis unravels effects of bioenergy on biodiversity and cultural ecosystem services
Land-use change from food to energy: meta-analysis unravels effects of bioenergy on biodiversity and cultural ecosystem services
Bioenergy has been identified as a key contributor to future energy scenarios consistent with the Paris Agreement targets, and is relied upon in scenarios both with and without bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, owing to the multiple ways in which bioenergy can substitute fossil fuels. Understanding the environmental and societal impacts of land-use change (LUC) to bioenergy crops is important in determining where and how they could be deployed, and the resulting trade-offs and co-benefits. We use systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the existing literature on two poorly understood impacts of this LUC that are likely to have an important effect on public acceptability: cultural ecosystem services and biodiversity. We focus on the impact of LUC to non-food bioenergy crops on agricultural landscapes, where large-scale bioenergy planting may be required. Our meta-analysis finds strong benefits for biodiversity overall (up 75% ± 13%), with particular benefits for bird abundance (+81% ± 32%), bird species richness (+100% ± 31%), arthropod abundance (+52% ± 36%), microbial biomass (+77% ± 24%), and plant species richness (+25% ± 22%), when land moves out of either arable crops or grassland to bioenergy production. Conversions from arable land to energy trees led to particularly strong benefits, providing an insight into how future LUC to non-food bioenergy crops could support biodiversity. There were inadequate data to complete a meta-analysis on the effects of non-food bioenergy crops on cultural ecosystem services, and few generalizable conclusions from a systematic review of the literature, however, findings highlight the importance of landscape context and planting strategies in determining impact. Our findings demonstrate improved farm-scale biodiversity on agricultural land with non-food bioenergy crops, but also limited knowledge concerning public response to this LUC, which could prove crucial to the successful expansion of bioenergy to meet the Paris targets.
1748-9326
Donnison, Caspar
70f4ab0b-e43e-4fae-8f80-9a5fa4e5d737
Holland, Robert
9c245e65-06bb-4b0e-8214-2b00ad2a47df
Harris, Zoe
f30c02b2-2836-4807-a953-9cfe153f9d2f
Eigenbrod, Felix
43efc6ae-b129-45a2-8a34-e489b5f05827
Taylor, Gail
Donnison, Caspar
70f4ab0b-e43e-4fae-8f80-9a5fa4e5d737
Holland, Robert
9c245e65-06bb-4b0e-8214-2b00ad2a47df
Harris, Zoe
f30c02b2-2836-4807-a953-9cfe153f9d2f
Eigenbrod, Felix
43efc6ae-b129-45a2-8a34-e489b5f05827
Taylor, Gail

Donnison, Caspar, Holland, Robert, Harris, Zoe, Eigenbrod, Felix and Taylor, Gail (2021) Land-use change from food to energy: meta-analysis unravels effects of bioenergy on biodiversity and cultural ecosystem services. Environmental Research Letters, 16 (11), [113005]. (doi:10.1088/1748-9326/ac22be).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Bioenergy has been identified as a key contributor to future energy scenarios consistent with the Paris Agreement targets, and is relied upon in scenarios both with and without bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, owing to the multiple ways in which bioenergy can substitute fossil fuels. Understanding the environmental and societal impacts of land-use change (LUC) to bioenergy crops is important in determining where and how they could be deployed, and the resulting trade-offs and co-benefits. We use systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the existing literature on two poorly understood impacts of this LUC that are likely to have an important effect on public acceptability: cultural ecosystem services and biodiversity. We focus on the impact of LUC to non-food bioenergy crops on agricultural landscapes, where large-scale bioenergy planting may be required. Our meta-analysis finds strong benefits for biodiversity overall (up 75% ± 13%), with particular benefits for bird abundance (+81% ± 32%), bird species richness (+100% ± 31%), arthropod abundance (+52% ± 36%), microbial biomass (+77% ± 24%), and plant species richness (+25% ± 22%), when land moves out of either arable crops or grassland to bioenergy production. Conversions from arable land to energy trees led to particularly strong benefits, providing an insight into how future LUC to non-food bioenergy crops could support biodiversity. There were inadequate data to complete a meta-analysis on the effects of non-food bioenergy crops on cultural ecosystem services, and few generalizable conclusions from a systematic review of the literature, however, findings highlight the importance of landscape context and planting strategies in determining impact. Our findings demonstrate improved farm-scale biodiversity on agricultural land with non-food bioenergy crops, but also limited knowledge concerning public response to this LUC, which could prove crucial to the successful expansion of bioenergy to meet the Paris targets.

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Accepted/In Press date: 5 August 2021
Published date: 11 November 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 455966
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/455966
ISSN: 1748-9326
PURE UUID: e17e5064-5c2e-42ee-8980-b63c3fa79f2f
ORCID for Robert Holland: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3038-9227
ORCID for Felix Eigenbrod: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8982-824X

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Date deposited: 11 Apr 2022 16:40
Last modified: 07 Feb 2024 02:47

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Contributors

Author: Caspar Donnison
Author: Robert Holland ORCID iD
Author: Zoe Harris
Author: Felix Eigenbrod ORCID iD
Author: Gail Taylor

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