Keeping Biofuels Free from Rainforest Destruction

The issue of biofuels being made from oil palm and soya which are destructive to rainforest ecosystems is taking on a high profile in the conservation community. This issue was first raised by and our international network earlier in the year with an alert to the EU. At that time, in my exhaustive perusal of forest news I had seen no mention of the the topic. Since our alert many other groups have become active on the matter. This is one example of the critical role that plays in identifying and mobilizing actions against emerging threats to the world's forests and climate. Our innovative network has more impact than appreciated, and suble moves forward are as frequent as outright conservation victories.
EU must ensure bioenergy is really 'green'
Travelling in a car fuelled by biodiesel seems like a great, environmentally-friendly thing to do. However, if the biodiesel has come from soya planted in the Brazilian Amazon or palm oil from Indonesia, the green consumer is likely to be unwittingly driving another nail into the coffin of the world's great ecosystems.”

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6 Responses

  1. Joe-in-Texas says:

    The core of your words are a reflection of dribble written by a Neo Luddite named Monbiot as published in The Guardian.
    The problem with the Monbiot claims of negative aspects of the emerging biodiesel industry are just that – they are generalized claims – unsupported by real documented fact.
    As a typical 'greenie' you cite nothing but generalities and accusations.
    Where is the real proof of all this destruction? How many hectares were destroyed? In what country? What province? Done by whom? When? How did they do it. What company did the bad deed? What country official ordered the forest destroyed. How many countries are doing this? Which countries by name? When did it start? Who bought the oil seed crop? Who is the biodiesel producer involved?
    Typically most of the claims are hype and hysteria and lots of it.
    Not so cordially – Joe-in-Texas
    REPLY: Monbiot's piece was in December 2005 (unless he had written something earler we did not see). first campaigned on European biodiesel in September 2005.

  2. Almuth Ernsting says:

    I very much welcome your campaign against tropical palm oil and soya being used for biofuels!
    However, I wonder whether this is the time to go further and say no to biofuels altogether. Yes, there are a few sustainable projects, but they are sustainable by virtue of being so small that they are irrelevant to the larger economy (and to climate change emissions). A recent study argued that, with 40% of the world's landmass being used for agriculture, we have reached the absolute limit (exceeded it, I would say), and the only expansion possible is at the expense of ancient rainforests, ie disastrous.
    I don't want to see further agricultural expansion in Europe or the US either. What about the impact on soils, including peat, which contributes to climate change emissions already? Or habitat loss, pressure on dwindling water supplies? If we agree that we cannot increase human impact on the land further, then perhaps this rules out biofuels altogether?
    I would love to be convinced of a positive role for biofuels, but perhaps it is time to say if there is none.

  3. Joe,
    Start with this article from New Scientist (not usually known for being neo-luddite), then go here, then here, then here. Go here to see a picture of a palm oil plantation where there used to be jungle and here where the Amazon is being cleared to plant soybeans.
    Also, the term neo-Luddite is more applicable to biodiesel enthusiasts than to Monbiot. Burning biomass to fuel steam engines or diesel engines are ideas over a century old and can hardly be described as new technology, it is a leap backwards to the days when we burned plants for our energy needs.
    Fact 1: the demand for biodiesel is growing rapidly. Fact 2: palm oil and soybeans are used to make biodiesel. Fact3: palm oil plantations and fields of soybeans are replacing rainforests.
    Russ Finley

  4. Cooly says:

    I really understand what your veiws are in this articale. How can I contact you?

  5. morty says:

    Based on my very limited knowledge of biofuels I do agree with your comments about particular forms of biomass not being suitable nor sustainable for biofuel production. I don't agree though, with your comments that it should be abandoned as an alternative source of energy altogether.
    It is difficult to argue that most of North America's suitable agricultural land has already been developed…and some unsuitable land as well. On the other hand, the use of agricultural “byproducts”, that often has marginal value otherwise, should have potential as a source of biofuel. For example, straw used for ethanol production. I'm not sure whether this is economically feasible but to me it seems well worth the investment. Once again, forgive my ignorance if this agrument does not hold water.

  6. Destruction says:


    Download and 1. Types of destruction include: Art destruction; Creative destruction; Habitat destruction; Rainforest destruction; Self dest…

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