Submitted to: Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/2/2010
Publication Date: 3/1/2011
Citation: Raghu, S., Spencer, J., Davis, A.S., Wiedenmann, R.N. 2011. Ecological considerations in the sustainable development of terrestrial biofuel crops. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 3:15-23. Interpretive Summary: The emerging bioeconomy (including developments in energy independence, carbon-neutral energy sources, and production of novel bio-products) is likely to change the agricultural landscape significantly. Because the scale and pace of this revolution poses major challenges for sustainable development, we highlight key ecological and environmental challenges and potential solutions for one aspect of the bioeconomy, biofuels production. We identify the need for a multidimensional approach to addressing these challenges. In particular, we suggest that partnerships between industry and research organizations will be fruitful for developing multidimensional understanding of, and guidelines for, biofuel feedstock production systems.
Technical Abstract: With potential benefits including the development of carbon-neutral energy sources, energy independence, production of novel bio-products and renewal or rural economies, the emerging bioeconomy is likely to result in the single largest reconfiguration of the agricultural landscape since the advent of industrial agriculture. However the scale and pace of this revolution poses significant challenges for sustainable bioeconomic development. We elucidate some of the key ecological and environmental challenges of one aspect of the bioeconomy, biofuels production. In assessing these challenges we highlight the inadequacy of seeking simplistic solutions. We identify the need for a multidimensional approach to addressing these challenges. We propose that the framework of “biocomplexity” enables such a multidimensional and cross-disciplinary consideration of biofuel production. Integration of such systems approaches in the development of biofuels with a more inclusive public engagement process would be beneficial within a triple bottom line context.