First, let me apologize to anyone who has visited my blog and found a bunch of spam! I just moved and only found out today that my blog was accumulating spam email. Hopefully I can now get that under control and we can get back to the business at hand. So let’s talk wildlife and bioenergy!
I’ve been working in the field of renewable energy for about 5 years now. My focus has been on the use of cellulosic biomass (e.g., plant material other than corn) for the use of bioenergy production – specifically for heat and alternative fuels. I study how bioenergy production using these sources may impact wildlife habitat and what the economic trade-offs may be in terms of bioenergy versus wildlife production. People discuss the potential benefits renewable energy may have on the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving water and air quality, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. There has been lot of research and discussion about converting this cellulosic material to ethanol or pelletizing it for heat production. But what often seems to be lacking in these discussions are the potential implications bioenergy development may have on wildlife. Wildlife will most likely be impacted by how bioenergy changes wildlife habitat (food, water, shelter, and space) during the production process (i.e., growing, managing, and harvesting biomass for bioenergy). We hope to change this by bringing wildlife to the forefront of discussion about renewable energy by including it as part of the definition of sustainability of these resources. But what is the best way to do that? How do we get producers, industry, and policy makers to consider wildlife in the decision-making process? Let’s hear your thoughts!