Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Bioenergy crops could fuel bird declines

A new report, prepared by leading UK environmental groups, highlights the dangers that uncontrolled planting of crops for bioenergy could bring.

Bioenergy in the UK warns that crops such as willow, oil-seed rape and miscanthus (elephant grass), grown for energy generation, could be sown as monocultures providing little sustenance for wildlife. Without proper management, the cultivation of crops for fuel, electricity and heat could actually cause further declines in farmland wildlife.

The environmental groups, including RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, National Trust, and CPRE, are calling for:

  • A UK-wide assessment of bioenergy’s potential and drawbacks
  • Certification of all bioenergy schemes to ensure producers prove cuts to greenhouse gas emissions
  • Planning policies that guard against unsuitable bioenergy developments and changes in land use.

Abi Bunker, Agriculture Policy Officer at the RSPB, said: “This report should serve as a wake-up call to government. Instead of jumping on the bioenergy bandwagon and regretting the damage later, the UK should be developing the bioenergy sector with care, avoiding damage to wildlife and making sure that emissions really are reduced.”