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Room at the margins for energy-crops? A qualitative analysis of stakeholder views on the use of marginal land for biomass production in Denmark

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Greater production of agricultural biomass for energy generation means a greater overlap between the energy and agricultural value chains. The production of biofuels from food crops was previously criticised as conflicting with food production. Use of so-called ‘marginal land’ is proposed to overcome previous controversies.

Using interviews and document analysis, this paper explores the meaning of ‘marginal land’ for non-food energy crop production in Denmark and conflicts that arose over its proposed use. In Denmark there was a different conception of marginal land – environmentally sensitive land where intensive cultivation causes impacts. Policies were put in place to promote the use of this ‘environmentally marginal land’. However, competing environmental objectives for this land – for different types of biodiversity, ecosystems services and aesthetic preferences meant these policies were repealed.

The paper shows how discussions of biomass production on agricultural land, and particularly marginal land, reflect the nuances of competing land uses in agriculturally intensive countries like Denmark. It is not only a matter of trade-offs between different types of agricultural production, such as food and fuel, or between environmental benefits and production, but over the optimal environmental use of the land to achieve multifunctional benefits. As well as questions of equity, access and practicality, the marginal land debate in agriculturally intensive countries needs to include questions of appropriate and desired environmental outcomes and means of stakeholder engagement to establish these.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomass & Bioenergy
Volume123
Pages (from-to)51-58
Number of pages8
ISSN0961-9534
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

ID: 213915936