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The ethanol industry and its impact on land use and biodiversity : a case study of Saõ Paulo State in Brazil

Svensson, Louise (2011) In Lunds universitets Naturgeografiska institution - Seminarieuppsatser
Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Abstract (Swedish)
Under de senaste decennierna har det blivit allt tydligare att den omfattande användningen av
fossila bränslen är dåligt för miljön. I och med att kunskapen om hur fossila bränslen påverkar
miljön har ökat, så har också intresset för alternativa bränslen ökat. Etanol är ett förnyelsebart
bränsle som framställs av biomassa och användningen av etanol har ökat under de senaste 40
åren. Etanol ger mindre energi än bensin och har med andra ord en lägre energieffektivitet,
men förbränningen av etanol är renare eftersom den innehåller syre och detta minskar utsläpp
av giftiga ämnen. Etanol produceras över hela världen och de största producenterna är USA
och Brasilien. I Brasilien produceras etanol från sockerrör och São Paulo State står... (More)
Under de senaste decennierna har det blivit allt tydligare att den omfattande användningen av
fossila bränslen är dåligt för miljön. I och med att kunskapen om hur fossila bränslen påverkar
miljön har ökat, så har också intresset för alternativa bränslen ökat. Etanol är ett förnyelsebart
bränsle som framställs av biomassa och användningen av etanol har ökat under de senaste 40
åren. Etanol ger mindre energi än bensin och har med andra ord en lägre energieffektivitet,
men förbränningen av etanol är renare eftersom den innehåller syre och detta minskar utsläpp
av giftiga ämnen. Etanol produceras över hela världen och de största producenterna är USA
och Brasilien. I Brasilien produceras etanol från sockerrör och São Paulo State står för mer än
50 % av Brasiliens produktion av både socker och etanol. Den största farhågan med
produktionen av etanol är att det kräver stora markområden eftersom det framställs av
biomassa och detta skulle kunna ändra på nuvarande markanvändning och påverka den
biologiska mångfalden. Ett exempel på detta finnes i delstaten São Paulo där nästan hela det
ursprungliga området av Atlantskogen har blivit avverkat som en följd av den ökade
etanolproduktionen. Atlantskogen och den stora savannen vid namn Cerrado är värdefulla
ekosystem i Brasilien som är förknippade med hög artrikedom och den ökade odlingen av
sockerrör i Brasilien har under de senaste decennierna lett till en fragmentering av dessa
habitat, följt av en minskning av den biologiska mångfalden. Sockerrörs odling orsakar inte
bara fragmentering av habitat, det förändrar också mönstret för odling. Mångfalden av grödor
i delstaten São Paulo har minskat och monokulturer med endast sockerrör breder ut sig.
Monokulturer ger högre avkastning, men är sårbara för sjukdomar eftersom växterna delar
samma gener, så om en sjukdom skulle inträffa misslyckas hela skörden. Detta i sin tur ökar
monokulturers beroende av bekämpningsmedel.
Syftet med denna litteraturstudie är att belysa de effekter den växande etanolindustrin i São
Paulo State (Brasilien) har på markanvändning och biologisk mångfald samt att se hur luft,
vatten och mark kvalitet påverkas av produktionen. De primära resultaten är att sockerrörsodlingar
i São Paulo State har ökat sedan 1970-talet. I början skedde expansion främst på
andra jordbruksmarker, men den senaste tidens expansion sker på betesmarker, vilket medför
att boskap får flytta till nya områden vilket orsakar indirekta effekter på den biologiska
mångfalden. Slutsatsen är att sockerrörsplantage i São Paulo State har ökat under de senaste
40 åren och beroende på var etanolen produceras skiljer sig produktionens påverkan på
markanvändning och biologisk mångfald. Etanol från sockerrör har en hög avkastning och
tillverkningsprocessen av etanol från sockerrör visar några tecken på hållbarhet. Dock kan de
skördemetoder som används förbättras då de har störst inverkan på luft-, vatten- och markkvalitet. (Less)
Abstract
During the last decades, it has become increasingly clear that the extensive use of fossil fuels
may severely threaten the environment. As the awareness of negative environmental impacts
of fossil fuels has increased, the interest of alternative fuel sources has developed. Ethanol is a
renewable fuel made from biomass that has attracted growing attention during the last 40
years. Ethanol has lower energy efficiency than gasoline but the combustion of ethanol is
cleaner since it contains oxygen and this lowers the emissions of toxic substances. Ethanol is
produced worldwide, with the largest producers being the United States and Brazil. In Brazil
ethanol is produced from sugarcane and São Paulo State account for more than 50% of
... (More)
During the last decades, it has become increasingly clear that the extensive use of fossil fuels
may severely threaten the environment. As the awareness of negative environmental impacts
of fossil fuels has increased, the interest of alternative fuel sources has developed. Ethanol is a
renewable fuel made from biomass that has attracted growing attention during the last 40
years. Ethanol has lower energy efficiency than gasoline but the combustion of ethanol is
cleaner since it contains oxygen and this lowers the emissions of toxic substances. Ethanol is
produced worldwide, with the largest producers being the United States and Brazil. In Brazil
ethanol is produced from sugarcane and São Paulo State account for more than 50% of
Brazil’s production of both sugar and ethanol. The main concern about ethanol production is
that it requires large land areas since it is produced from biomass and this could shift land use
and affect biodiversity. For example, within the state of São Paulo almost all of the original
area of the Atlantic Forest has been deforested as a result of the increased ethanol production
during the last decades. The Atlantic Forest and the large savanna called Cerrado are precious
ecosystems in Brazil that are associated with very high levels of species richness and the
increased cultivation of sugarcane within Brazil during the last decades has led to the
fragmentation of these habitats, followed by a decrease in biodiversity. Much of the
biodiversity value of forest and savanna habitats depends on the preservation of the remaining
fragments and to a sustainable planning of the future cultivation of sugarcane. Not only does
the increased sugarcane cultivation cause fragmentation of forest and savanna habitats, it also
changes the pattern of cultivation. The variety of crops in São Paulo State has decreased and
large areas of monocultures with sugarcane are spreading. Monocultures gives higher yields
but are vulnerable to diseases since it share the same genetics, so if a disease should occur the
entire harvest fails. This in turn increases monocultures dependency on pesticides.
The purpose of this study is to highlight the impact the growing ethanol industry in São Paulo
State (Brazil) has on land use and biodiversity as well as look into how air, water and soil
quality are affected by production. The primary results are that sugarcane cultivations in São
Paulo State have increased since the 1970s. At first the expansion took place on other
agricultural land but recent expansion is taking place on pastures, making cattle move to new
areas which causes indirect effects on biodiversity. It is concluded that sugarcane plantations
in São Paulo State have increased during the last 40 years and depending on where ethanol is
produced the impact on land use and biodiversity differs in severity. Ethanol from sugarcane
has a high production yield and the process of making ethanol from sugarcane show some
signs of being sustainable. However, the methods used for harvesting the crop have the
biggest impact on air, water and soil quality and could be improved. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Svensson, Louise
supervisor
organization
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
geography, physical geography, sugarcane, deforestation, Cerrado, expansion, habitats, geografi, naturgeografi, sockerrör, avskogning, habitat
publication/series
Lunds universitets Naturgeografiska institution - Seminarieuppsatser
report number
206
language
English
id
2154057
date added to LUP
2011-09-05 11:23:36
date last changed
2011-12-21 12:49:46
@misc{2154057,
  abstract     = {During the last decades, it has become increasingly clear that the extensive use of fossil fuels
may severely threaten the environment. As the awareness of negative environmental impacts
of fossil fuels has increased, the interest of alternative fuel sources has developed. Ethanol is a
renewable fuel made from biomass that has attracted growing attention during the last 40
years. Ethanol has lower energy efficiency than gasoline but the combustion of ethanol is
cleaner since it contains oxygen and this lowers the emissions of toxic substances. Ethanol is
produced worldwide, with the largest producers being the United States and Brazil. In Brazil
ethanol is produced from sugarcane and São Paulo State account for more than 50% of
Brazil’s production of both sugar and ethanol. The main concern about ethanol production is
that it requires large land areas since it is produced from biomass and this could shift land use
and affect biodiversity. For example, within the state of São Paulo almost all of the original
area of the Atlantic Forest has been deforested as a result of the increased ethanol production
during the last decades. The Atlantic Forest and the large savanna called Cerrado are precious
ecosystems in Brazil that are associated with very high levels of species richness and the
increased cultivation of sugarcane within Brazil during the last decades has led to the
fragmentation of these habitats, followed by a decrease in biodiversity. Much of the
biodiversity value of forest and savanna habitats depends on the preservation of the remaining
fragments and to a sustainable planning of the future cultivation of sugarcane. Not only does
the increased sugarcane cultivation cause fragmentation of forest and savanna habitats, it also
changes the pattern of cultivation. The variety of crops in São Paulo State has decreased and
large areas of monocultures with sugarcane are spreading. Monocultures gives higher yields
but are vulnerable to diseases since it share the same genetics, so if a disease should occur the
entire harvest fails. This in turn increases monocultures dependency on pesticides.
The purpose of this study is to highlight the impact the growing ethanol industry in São Paulo
State (Brazil) has on land use and biodiversity as well as look into how air, water and soil
quality are affected by production. The primary results are that sugarcane cultivations in São
Paulo State have increased since the 1970s. At first the expansion took place on other
agricultural land but recent expansion is taking place on pastures, making cattle move to new
areas which causes indirect effects on biodiversity. It is concluded that sugarcane plantations
in São Paulo State have increased during the last 40 years and depending on where ethanol is
produced the impact on land use and biodiversity differs in severity. Ethanol from sugarcane
has a high production yield and the process of making ethanol from sugarcane show some
signs of being sustainable. However, the methods used for harvesting the crop have the
biggest impact on air, water and soil quality and could be improved.},
  author       = {Svensson, Louise},
  keyword      = {geography,physical geography,sugarcane,deforestation,Cerrado,expansion,habitats,geografi,naturgeografi,sockerrör,avskogning,habitat},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Lunds universitets Naturgeografiska institution - Seminarieuppsatser},
  title        = {The ethanol industry and its impact on land use and biodiversity : a case study of Saõ Paulo State in Brazil},
  year         = {2011},
}