Main image for The Impact of Biofuel Expansion on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Effects of biofuel expansion can clearly be seen

Global biofuel production has increased five-fold in the  past decade and is predicted to further double by 2020. The International Energy Agency predicts that biofuels derived from crops, oilseeds and biomass can constitute 27% of total transport fuel by 2050. Most of this expansion is expected to take place in  developing nations and on some of the most globally  biodiverse land.

Researchers at the Biodiversity Institute are examining the direct and indirect impact of biofuel production and use on biodiversity and the ecosystem services that it provides. A key component of this 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 biodiversity and ecosystem services in different landscapes around the world such as Jatropha in southern Africa,  oil palm in Southeast Asia and sugarcane in Brazil.

Research conducted by Oxford University, CSIR and UNU-IAS shows that numerous trade-offs emerge when converting undisturbed ecosystems or agricultural land into jatropha landscapes in Sub-Saharan Africa. These trade-offs do not only affect local communities but can have far-reaching consequences. The results of our extensive literature review are included in a UNU-IAS Policy Report.

We produced a video that highlights the intricate trade-offs associated with jatropha production in the vicinity of a large jatropha plantation in Mozambique and a smallholder jatropha project in Malawi.




For further information :

Some papers of interest

Gasparatos, A., Lee, L.Y., von Maltitz, G., Mathai, M.V., Puppim de Oliveira, Willis, K.J., 2012. Biofuels in Africa: Impacts on ecosystem services, biodiversity and human wellbeing. UNU-IAS Policy Report, Yokohama. Available at

Gasparatos, A., Stromberg, P. (Eds.), 2012. Socioeconomic and environmental impacts of biofuels: Evidence from developing nations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Gasparatos, A., Stromberg, P., Takeuchi, K. (2011) Biofuels, ecosystem services and human wellbeing: Putting biofuels in the ecosystem services narrative. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 142: 111-128. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2011.04.020