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Biofuel-friendly trees may improve Indonesia’s landscape

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According to Forest News, both Indonesia’s landscape restoration targets and growing energy demands could be met with the help of biofuel plantations. 

Scientists with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Korean National Institute of Forest Science (NIFOS) and Indonesia’s University of Muhammadiyah Palangkaraya (UMP) are all currently conducting research to identify the most promising and productive bioenergy crops situated in underutilised lands.

The aim of the research is to determine methods of bioenergy production that will not contend with food production and environmental conservation, but will instead contribute towards it.

The location under examination is the province of Central Kalimantan, which has been largely devastated by forest fires as well as renovations to agricultural and mining activities. The area being examined is 7.2 million hectares and is home to residents of which 40% do not have access to electricity and who rely on woody biomass as fuel for cooking.

Scientist for CIFOR climate, energy and low carbon research team, Himlal Baral has said on the project; “Overall, Indonesia aims to meet 23% of its growing energy demand from new and renewable energy sources by 2025 with a 10% share from bioenergy. We can now share preliminary but promising results, which have isolated specific tress and crops that can provide energy, food security while simultaneously restoring land.”

The research was carried out by scientists in Buntoi Village in Pulang Pisau district, which has a population of 2,700 people. The area was heavily dependent on rubber plantations and subsistence agriculture until fires broke out and destroyed forests and peatlands in 2015.

Nyamplung (Calophyllum inophyllum) was identified by scientists as the most adaptive bioenergy tree species for degraded peatlands after they had planted tree trails in the area. The nyamplung grew best when planted in a mixed agroforestry setting instead of a monoculture.

“This is a win-win solution-growing biofuel using an agroforestry system can be a better land use strategy considering its potential to enhance farm production and income, biodiversity and support sustainable development.” Himlal said.

The planting of trees for biofuel can help to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions. The nyamplung seeds are collected to produce biodiesel and to ultimately, replace fossil fuels. This means that the trees planted in the landscape will be providing other environmental services.

Researcher with CIFOR Syed Rahman states, “Our objective is not intended only to restore burned peat land with a strictly biofuel production approach, but to enhance it with appropriate policies concerning environment and development goals.”

Read more about the report made on suitability of tree species for bioenergy production here.

 

Written by junior editor, Emma Greedy