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Balance between climate change mitigation benefits and land use impacts of bioenergy: conservation implications for European birds

Publication Year


  • Meller, Laura
  • Thuiller, Wilfried
  • Pironon, Samuel
  • Barbet-Massin, Morgane
  • Hof, Andries
  • Cabeza, Mar
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY BIOENERGY Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Pages: 741-751 Published: 2015
1757-1693 eISSN: 1757-1707

Both climate change and habitat modification exert serious pressure on biodiversity. Although climate change mitigation has been identified as an important strategy for biodiversity conservation, bioenergy remains a controversial mitigation action due to its potential negative ecological and socio-economic impacts which arise through habitat modification by land use change. While the debate continues, the separate or simultaneous impacts of both climate change and bioenergy on biodiversity have not yet been compared. We assess projected range shifts of 156 European bird species by 2050 under two alternative climate change trajectories: a baseline scenario, where the global mean temperature increases by 4 degrees C by the end of the century, and a 2 degrees scenario, where global concerted effort limits the temperature increase to below 2 degrees C. For the latter scenario, we also quantify the pressure exerted by increased cultivation of energy biomass as modelled by IMAGE2.4, an integrated land use model. The global bioenergy use in this scenario is in the lower end of the range of previously estimated sustainable potential. Under the assumptions of these scenarios, we find that the magnitude of range shifts due to climate change is far greater than the impact of land conversion to woody bioenergy plantations within the European Union, and that mitigation of climate change reduces the exposure experienced by species. However, we identified potential for local conservation conflict between priority areas for conservation and bioenergy production. These conflicts must be addressed by strict bioenergy sustainability criteria that acknowledge biodiversity conservation needs beyond existing protected areas and apply also to biomass imported from outside the European Union.

Author Keyword(s)
  • biodiversity
  • climate change adaptation
  • climate change mitigation
  • complementarity
  • renewable energy
  • spatial conservation prioritization
KeyWord(s) Plus
ESI Discipline(s)
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Biology & Biochemistry
  • Engineering
  • Geosciences
Web of Science Category(ies)
  • Agronomy
  • Biotechnology & Applied Microbiology
  • Energy & Fuels

[Meller, Laura; Cabeza, Mar] Univ Helsinki, Dept Biosci, Metapopulat Res Grp, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland; [Meller, Laura; Thuiller, Wilfried; Pironon, Samuel] Univ Grenoble 1, Lab Ecol Alpine UMR CNRS 5553, F-938041 Grenoble 9, France; [Pironon, Samuel] Inst Pirenaico Ecol CSIC, Zaragoza 50080, Spain; [Barbet-Massin, Morgane] UPMC, Ctr Rech Biol Populat Oiseaux, CNRS, Museum Natl Hist Nat,UMR MNHN 7204, F-75005 Paris, France; [Barbet-Massin, Morgane] Yale Univ, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol, New Haven, CT 06520 USA; [Hof, Andries] PBL Netherlands Environm Assessment Agcy, Bilthoven, Netherlands

Reprint Adress

Meller, L (reprint author), Univ Helsinki, Dept Biosci, Metapopulat Res Grp, POB 65, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland.

  • Finland
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • United States
CNRS - Adress(es)
  • Centre des Sciences de la Conservation (CESCO), UMR7204
  • Laboratoire d'écologie alpine (LECA), UMR5553
Accession Number
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