Biomass energy: another driver of land acquisitions?
As governments in the global North look to diversify their economies away from fossil fuel and mitigate climate change, plans for biomass energy are growing fast. These are fuelling a sharp rise in the demand for wood, which, for some countries, could outstrip domestic supply capacity by as much as 600 per cent. It is becoming clear that although these countries will initially look to tap the temperate woodlands of developed countries, there are significant growth rate advantages that may lead them to turn to the tropics and sub-tropics to fill their biomass gap in the near future. Already there is evidence of foreign investors acquiring land in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia to establish tree plantations for biomass energy. If left unchecked, these trends could increase pressures on land access and food security in some of the world’s poorest countries and communities.