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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 2: Designing a Strategy
functions should be clearly delineated and mapped. An inventory
of high risk areas should be maintained in order to screen and
monitor future land development options.
The two examples of high carbon content environments and high
biodiversity environments represent signifcant types of high risk
areas; however, there may be other large land areas of special
signifcance that need to be excluded from development for
environmental, social and/or cultural reasons. Such areas may
already be classifed as such in national or regional development
policies. National parks and other protected areas will often be
considered high risk areas or in some cases will be off limits
for any type of development. It will also be important to overlay
environmental data so as to evaluate synergies and conficts;
for example, it may often be the case that some areas will be
extremely sensitive in relation to both biodiversity and carbon
Also included as high risk areas are those associated with interna-
tional agreements such as the Ramsar Convention on wetlands
and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Resources: Identifying Areas of Biodiversity>
. It is not necessar
the specifc delineation or defnition of High Risk Areas that is the
main concern; a comprehensive assessment process is more
important since the specifc defnitions can fall into gray areas and
will change over time (UNEP/Oeko, 2009).
The main purpose of this step is to map the existing agricultural
production areas and assess the likely expansion path for food
production over the short to medium term, based on spatially
explicit projections of future population growth where feasible. The
spatial juxtaposition of bioenergy crops with food crops presents
both opportunities and risks. The opportunities arise from factors
such as the stimulation of new technical developments, the
additional income and fexibility for farmers, the possibility to
make more effcient use of agro-industrial infrastructure and the
potential for integrated food-energy systems
and Deployment: IFES>
. The risks arise from competition for lan
water and other key agricultural inputs (FAO, 2009).
A spatial overlay on areas currently under agricultural production
with the areas identifed as “suitable land” for feedstock
production highlights the potential areas of competition with food
production. If bioenergy is to be developed in or near these areas,
measures should be taken to protect food security. The measures
might include intercropping, integrated food-energy systems and
income-enhancing energy service provision
Approaches: IFES>
. Furthermore, there should be consideratio
for future agricultural production areas and not only the current
ones; the future areas will depend on productivity improvements,
changes in diet and population, and also the possibility that
climate change will affect the feasible growing regions for some
<Climate Impacts and Adaptation>
The identifcation of high risk areas and the mapping of existing
agricultural areas are part (albeit critical ones) of the overall
assessment of land availability. The availability of land that has
been determined as suitable for a particular crop is often a
political decision, since land and resource rights would have to be
granted by the appropriate authorities (FAO/BEFS, 2010a). Land
availability must also be tailored to the type of bioenergy scheme
envisioned: for example, the coppicing of trees in natural or
planted forests could imply joint uses of forest resources, whereas
agro-energy crops might require dedicated land that would be
unavailable for other uses. Land availability must also consider the
productivity of the existing uses; where agricultural productivity
for food production can be substantially increased jointly with
expanded biofuel production, then no additional land may be
<Mod5-Land Resources>
Yet another aspect of land
availability relates to land-intensive activities such as the grazing
of animals, which might be modifed or managed jointly, so as to
allow for expanded bioenergy production.
The use of marginal or degraded land for crop production
may provide an opportunity to produce bioenergy while
limiting competition with food production, and if managed
in an appropriate way can also restore or improve soil
quality – leading to enhanced carbon sequestration. Therefore
availability assessments can be usefully complemented with
spatial information related to marginal and/or degraded lands
<Mod5-Land Resources: Marginal and Degraded Lands>
If spatial information is not available, then feld studies might
be conducted in areas that are thought to have signifcant
expanses of degraded or marginal land. If the degraded lands
are abandoned croplands, then depending on soil conditions and
the feedstock under consideration, an analysis can be done to
determine the additional costs for land preparation
. If the degraded lands consist of deforested land, on
might consider afforestation options that include some bioenergy
extraction. For marginal (generally un-economic) lands, one might
conduct an assessment of the costs and types of incentives
needed to bring the land up to a level that is economically feasible
for use. Where subsistence farmers are occupying the land, some
negotiation and compensation will be needed in order to assure
fair outcomes
<Mod6-People and Processes>
Box 2: Examples of high risk areas
High Risk Areas
High biodiversity environments:
Areas that contain high levels of biological diversity, that include areas that: support a large diversity
of species; be important for supporting a species of conservation value such as rare, endangered or threatened species; contain
ecosystems or habitats of signifcance and concern; and areas that because of their biological components supply goods and
services that are culturally important to people. Because the identifcation of areas of biodiversity can be equated on multiple scales
- global, regional, national, and site-specifc, knowing which tool to use is an important step in project impact assessments (UNEP,
2009). Two important approaches to help identify these areas is the concept of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) (Eken et al, 2004) and
High Conservation Value Areas (HCVAs) (Jennings et al, 2004).