University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers say clearing grassland for biofuels bad

In Wisconsin, clearing grasslands to make way for biofuels may seem counterproductive, but University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers show in a study that crops, including the corn and soy commonly used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.

The study — from UW-Madison graduate student Tyler Lark, geography Professor Holly Gibbs, and postdoctoral researcher Meghan Salmon — is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters and addresses the debate over whether the recent boom in demand for common biofuel crops has led to the carbon-emitting conversion of natural areas. It also reveals loopholes in U.S. policies that may contribute to these unintended consequences.

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