There is evidence to suggest that biofuels provide several ecosystem services (e.g. fuel, climate regulation) but that they also compromise other ecosystem services (e.g. food, freshwater services, cultural services). However, this knowledge is fragmented and little is known about how the ecosystem services provided and/or compromised by biofuels affect human wellbeing. In particular there is:
• virtually no research explicitly linking biofuels ecosystem services and human wellbeing (academic gap);
• lack of a consistent language/conceptual framework that can be used to put biofuels’ diverse trade-offs into perspective and frame the biofuel debate (policy gap);
• lack of rapid and robust integrated assessment mechanisms for assessing the impacts of different biofuel practices and quantifying the biofuel potential in different landscapes (practice gap).
The aim of the proposed project is to bridge these three gaps by exploring how the ecosystem services approach can be used for framing, understanding, assessing and conveying the direct and indirect impact of biofuel production. Central to the proposed project is the development of a methodology that can allow the rapid, robust and user-friendly evaluation of the biofuel potential and the impact of biofuel expansion on ecosystem services in different landscapes around the world. Key deliverables of the proposed project will include:
(a) a conceptual framework for putting biofuels in the ecosystem services narrative;
(b) a methodology that can assess rapidly and in a robust manner the biofuel potential and the impact of biofuel expansion on ecosystem services in different biofuel landscapes. This methodology will be developed as add-on layers of the Local Ecological Footprinting Tool developed by the host institution (Biodiversity Institute, Oxford University). The developed layers will be validated with case studies in oil palm and jatropha landscapes in Indonesia and southern Africa respectively.
Fields of science
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