The Ecological Society of America (ESA) released a policy statement that advocates we consider the ecosystem services and ecological sustainability of biofuel sources, and highlights native prairie and native plants as an example:
"CONSERVATION OF ECOSYSTEM SERVICES. A focus on ecosystem services will provide the foundation necessary for win-win scenarios. It is easy to design systems for maximum crop yields; over a century of agronomic research has shown that this can be done very successfully. Managing for other ecosystem services also provided by agricultural landscapes is less common but equally necessary. Lower yields from an unfertilized native prairie, for example, may be acceptable in light of the other benefits provided by native plants in an agricultural landscape. These include:
- A complete and closed cycling of nutrients;
- Minimized flooding and increased groundwater recharge;
- Enhanced carbon sequestration in the soil because tilling would be unnecessary;
- Fewer pests because habitat for insects and birds that prey on them is left intact;
- Genetic diversity;
- Reduced nitrogen and phosphorus runoff because no fertilizer is needed;
- Reduced soil erosion due to continuous soil cover;
- Reduced nitrous oxide production; and
- Pollinator habitat and resources."
Read the full article, "Biofuel Sustainability", on the Ecological Society of America’s web site.