A method for estimating the indirect land use change from bioenergy activities based on the supply and demand of agricultural-based energy

Publication from Life

Bird D.N., Zanchi G., Pena N.

Biomass and Bioenergy , 2013


A model has been created that compares the demand and supply of food energy globally or at a country level. The model can be used to identify the amount and type of land use change required to satisfy increased food energy demand and so can be used to estimate indirect land use change if agricultural crops are used to the production of biomass for energy.


The results from the model imply that for every increase of 1 TJ of food energy demand there is 18 ha of deforestation worldwide. The model suggests that if the current trend continues then the EU Renewable Energy Directive will cause between 28 and 53 million hectares of deforestation and another 20 and 38 million hectares of deforestation will occur due to the U.S. Ethanol Program.


This model also suggests that the deforestation caused by the conversion of a hectare of food-producing land to biofuel production depends on the amount of food energy that the land produced. For example, the conversion of a hectare of pulses in India causes 0.04 ha of deforestation; a hectare of sugar cane in Kenya causes 2.2 ha of deforestation due to high yields and high energy value; a hectare of grassland used for milk production in Europe, if converted, causes only 0.03 ha of deforestation due to lower yield and energy value; and 0.37 ha of deforestation would be required to compensate for the loss of one hectare of cereal-producing land in Canada.

Keywords: Bioenergy, Land use change, Deforestation, Food supply