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How the ecological risks of extended bioenergy production can be reduced
Date:4/23/2012

er cent of productive agricultural land nearly natural is currently being discussed controversially. The term 'ecological priority areas' refers to all extensive, nearly natural areas, such as fallow land, hedge areas, orchards or land strips along water bodies", explains the environmental lawyer Dr. Stefan Mckel of the UFZ.

The recently published study investigated different scenarios for the extension of bioenergy in a newly developed computer model to gain a better understanding of the complex relationships at the regional landscape scale and to identify and analyse the resulting ecological risks. Different variants of accompanying nature conservation measures were also investigated in order to develop options for the reduction of the risks. For the example of the Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis), it was shown with the help of this computer model that typical consequences of the extended cultivation of energy crops, such as the thinning of the spectrum of cultivated crops and increasing spatial agglomeration to large-scale monocultures, can have negative effects on the field bird populations. These tendencies in today's intensive agriculture can be partly counteracted by the preservation of remaining nearly natural areas and field margins. However, it was also shown that both the extent of the resulting risks and the effectiveness of the counteracting conservation measures depend upon the structure of the particular agricultural landscape and the size of the fields. The larger and more homogeneous the landscape, the more important is the conservation of highly diverse nearly natural areas and field margins.

The Eurasian skylark is the most common open land field bird in central Europe. The intensification of agriculture in recent years has resulted in a decline of around one third in their numbers. "The Eurasian skylark is a type of indicator for the ecological state of many regions used for agriculture, because they have settled in differe
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Contact: Tilo Arnhold
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1635
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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