Biofuel production is a major and increasing threat to many ecosystems of high conservation importance. To reduce such impacts sustainability accreditation schemes have been developed, which can be used to show compliance with mandatory sustainability criteria, such as those included in the EU´s Renewable Energy Directive. However, implementation of such schemes is difficult and requires spatial information on potential biodiversity and other environmental impacts, such as maps that indicate ´no-go areas´ where biofuels should not be produced and areas where their production might minimise environmental impacts. There are concerns that definitive mapping of ‘go´ and ´no-go´ areas may be too simplistic and that inappropriate standards for defining such areas may be used. Schemes also need to ensure on-site assessments are carried out where the biodiversity status of an area earmarked for biofuels is uncertain, and stakeholders are involved in decision making, which should be at the lowest appropriate level.
There is therefore an urgent need to ensure that biofuel sustainability criteria relating to biodiversity, carbon stocks and other ecosystem services are appropriate and fully complied with through the implementation of robust and transparent procedures that involve all appropriate stakeholders and use the best available up-to-date data. Such criteria also need to be expanded to other commodities to help reduce indirect landuse change impacts.
The event is intended for those actively involved in developing and testing sustainability scheme mapping approaches (eg the WWF Sustainable Land Use project) and others involved in bioenergy policy issues. The overall aim of the session is to share experiences and agree on best practice principles and standards for limiting the direct and indirect impacts of the production of biofuels and other agricultural commodities on biodiversity and ecosystem services.