IUCN Guidelines on biofuels and invasive alien species
Many governments are actively encouraging private investment in biofuel developments for reasons such as agricultural development, increased energy security and independence, improved balance of trade, etc. However, the risk of introducing potentially invasive species has received little or no attention and is not being adequately prevented or managed. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) therefore developed guidelines on biofuels and invasive alien species during two workshops organized in Nairobi. The guidelines are directed to biofuel producers and decision makers, and provide guidance to importing companies and countries.
These guidelines refer to the ‘Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels’, which is a multi-stakeholder initiative that developed a Standard for sustainable biofuel production addressing environmental, social and economic issues related to biofuel production. A standard was published in 2009 and one of the criteria that has to be met is that biofuel producers and processors shall not use any plant species officially prohibited in the country of operation. When the species is not prohibited, information about its invasiveness shall be investigated, and when the species is recorded as highly invasive under similar conditions, it should not be used.
The IUCN guidelines have been divided into 4 sections representing intervention points along the supply chain:
- Planning: cost-benefit analysis including estimation of the potential costs of an invasion shall be conducted. Strategic environment assessments including weed risk analysis shall be undertaken. A contingency fund for any necessary remedial action should also be planned.
- Importation: importation plants, seeds and propagules for biofuel should occur within a suitable robust quarantine system. The regulations relating to the importation and introduction of live plants or propagules should be respected, and monitoring in this respect strengthened.
- Production: an environmental management plan should be developed, with provisions for a contingency plan in case of the escape of invasive species, with a fund for eradication, containment or management, as well as for the development of a monitoring system.
Transportation/processing: the distances of transport should be minimized to reduce the risks of invasion, and ideally, processing should take place on-site.
IUCN (2009) Guidelines on biofuels and invasive alien species. Gland, Switzerland, 20 p.