Assessing deforestation from biofuels: methodological challenges

Yan Gao, Margaret Skutsch, Rudi Drigo, Pablo Pacheco, Omar Masera

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    In this article, we attempt to find the spatial relations between deforestation and biofuel production at global level by analyzing available global deforestation and biofuels data, and find that, for a variety of reasons relating to data availability and its characteristics, and the way biofuels are produced, this task is extremely difficult if not virtually impossible. Then we bring down the scale of the analysis to the case study level and provide a detailed methodology for analyzing the spatial relation between deforestation and biofuel development. We argue that this multi-scale approach, based on systematic sampling at the case study level would help to better understand the relation between biofuels and deforestation. Given the fact that biofuels are a highly contested approach to reduction of global carbon emissions, and that different lobbies in this debate are making claims that deforestation is, or is not, occurring as a result of the expansion of biofuel production, clarity on the methodological difficulties of making statements of this kind, at least in a global spatial analysis, may help avoid false conclusions being promulgated in the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)508-518
    JournalApplied geography
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Biofuels
    • Feedstocks
    • Deforestation
    • Indirect land use change


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