Chapter Develops Bioenergy Position Statement

By Colleen Hartel

Iowa Bioenergy Image credit: NRCS

The Iowa Chapter of TWS has developed a position statement on the impacts of biofuel energy development on wildlife within the state.

“As Iowa continues to expand in and explore other options for producing biofuels, we felt that the wildlife voice needed to be heard and that the potential impacts on wildlife be addressed,” says Brian Sauer, Chair of the Resolutions and Public Statements Committee for Iowa TWS.

Biofuel production may cause detrimental impacts to wildlife habitats. Conversion of habitat and use of non-native species as energy crops, which may become invasive, can both pose significant risk to natural systems. The statement includes several ways to minimize risk from bioenergy crops, such as selecting plant species that are native to the region, restricting use of species identified as invasive through weed risk assessment screening protocols, and researching the potential use of perennial crops as bioenergy crops.

The statement also identifies a need for more research on the impacts of bioenergy on wildlife. Further expansion of the collection of peer-reviewed literature on this topic will work to facilitate the identification of currently unknown impacts to wildlife and enable managers to make sound, science-based recommendations and decisions. The statement additionally recommends monitoring of biofuel production and disposal to minimize risk to aquatic and terrestrial systems; regional assessments of land-use are also recommended to monitor habitat conversion and impacts on wildlife habitat.

“Biofuels can have landscape-level effects on wildlife and other natural resources,” says Sauer, “[We] want wildlife and healthy ecosystems to be a part of the discussions on biofuels energy development in Iowa and throughout the nation.”

Colleen Hartel is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

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