Business and Biodiversity


Impact of biofuel production on biodiversity in Europe

The aim of the project was to provide an overview of the positive and negative impacts of biofuel production in Europe, and to provide recommendations for European and national policymakers regarding sustainable biofuel production.


The project was funded by the Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung, Germany.

  • Review of available literature and websites and/or conducting of interviews.
  • Identification and detailed study of at least three pilots of existing biofuel production sites at subnational level in Europe with potentially positive impacts on biodiversity.
  • Compilation of a comprehensive list of documented positive and negative impacts from biofuel production on biodiversity, based on the literature/internet review and interviews and the workshop discussions.
  • Summary of the findings, including the list of impacts and a set of practical recommendations for biodiversity-friendly biofuel production, in easily accessible language in a policy document targeted at the EU Commission and the CBD/COP9. You can read more about it and download the document 'Impacts of biofuel production on biodiversity in Europe' on this website.

The findings of the study indicate that bioenergy crops, such as willows, poplars, Miscanthus species and reed canary grass, are the most promising species, with the potential to supply large amounts of biomass for the production of second generation biofuels. The impacts they may have on biodiversity can be negative as well as positive. If established in existing areas of value for biodiversity (e.g. semi-natural grasslands or forests) they will have a direct negative impact; however, willow or poplar plantations, in particular, could contribute positively to biodiversity if they are planted in less diverse, intensively farmed landscapes.

The study was finalized and distributed to a wide range of researchers and policymakers at the end of October 2008. It is expected that the report will serve as an important contribution to the current policy debate on bioenergy and will promote more sustainable bioenergy production in Europe and beyond its borders.