Is There Too Much Land in Europe?
by Robert Vierhout (Ethanol Producer Magazine/ePURE) …Even if that extra demand would not exist, why would European politicians want to increase idled land, knowing that year-on-year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, arable land in Europe is left idle?
This reality does not seem to have an impact on the thinking of the European Commission. As part of another reform of the CAP, the commission will soon introduce “ecological focus areas” and farmers will be required to devote at least 7 percent of their eligible program hectares to fallow, terraces, landscape features, buffer strips and reforestation.
…If environmental concern is the name of the game, why then not force upon all crop production, whatever the end-use, sustainability criteria that already apply to biofuel crops? That would most likely deliver more than the 7 percent land being envisaged with this measure.
But what is most striking is the impression given that there is an abundance of arable land in Europe and that we can do with less. If that is indeed the case, why are we having this silly debate on indirect land use change (ILUC)? A study published in March 2011, commissioned by a group of nongovernmental organizations and conducted by the Institute for European Environmental Policy, found the anticipated indirect land use by 2020 associated with increased biofuels in the EU would require an area almost equal to the entire Republic of Ireland.
The 7 percent arable land set aside for ecological focus areas would comprise about 7 million hectares—more or less the size of Ireland. READ MORE