Climate Change Research ›› 2012, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (3): 220-227.doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1673-1719.2012.03.010

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Biodiversity Conservation and Cultivation of Biofuel Plants in China

Zhang Fengchun1, Li Pei1, Qu Laiye2   

  • Received:2011-11-15 Revised:2012-03-15 Online:2012-05-30 Published:2012-05-30

Abstract: The development of biofuel plant cultivation has been widely accepted as an efficient alternative way to ease energy crisis and mitigate climate change. China has released and promulgated a number of laws and policies encouraging the development of renewable energy in recent years. With emphasis and encouragement from the Chinese Government, the cultivation of biofuel plants, such as Jatropha curcas, has been extensively promoted in many areas of China. However, as an emerging industrial cultivation, there are still many uncertainties in the development of biofuel plants. It is important to examine potential problems in order to guide correctly the healthy development of the industry. The impact of industrialization of energy plant cultivation on the biodiversity in important areas is an issue that deserves attention. The possible impacts on biodiversity may include: i) impacts on the actions adopted in the national biodiversity conservation priority areas; ii) impacts on the biodiversity in important areas as well as ecosystem services; iii) impacts of extensive use of exotic species on native species and ecosystems. To address these potential threats to biodiversity, it is recommended that: i) all of the planning and projects for biofuel plant cultivation must obtain approval through strategic environmental assessment or environmental impact assessment, which includes biodiversity elements, before they are implemented; ii) large-scale mono-culture of bioenergy plantations in sensitive biodiversity areas should be avoided, and mixed cultivation of several species, preferably of native species, should be adopted; iii) ecological corridors and ecological infrastructure should be considered when the site for plantation is selected and the cultivation patterns are designed; iv) further studies on the mechanisms of biofuel plant cultivation impacts on biodiversity and on win-win approaches for biodiversity conservation and biofuel development are needed; v) monitoring of the mutual impacts of biofuel development and biodiversity conservation is also needed. Both newly established plantations and existing cultivations should be monitored in order to provide a scientific and practical basis for government’s decision making.

Key words: biodiversity, bioenergy plants, cultivation

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