High Environmental Costs Relative To Benefits of Farming African Wet Savannas

Screenshot 2015-03-17 10.07.02My colleagues and I published a paper yesterday in Nature Climate Change that examines the environmental costs relative to the potential crop and biofuel production benefits of farming Africa’s higher rainfall savannas.  We found that only 2-11% of these areas qualify as high benefit/low cost in terms of maize and soy yield potential relative to the carbon that would be released from land transformation, while only 1-3% of the land would produce biofuels that meet EU standards for greenhouse gas savings. We also found that this region has mammal and bird diversity similar to that tropical forests.  These findings suggest that African savannas cannot produce commodity crops or biofuel for global export without incurring significant environmental cost, and that new crop production in these areas should be prioritized for meeting the continent’s rapidly growing food demand. We emphasize the need for more detailed, country-level analyses to identify the areas where food production can be maximized for the least ecological cost. Please follow the links below for more detail.

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