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The global land use impact of the United Kingdom's biomass consumption Part 1: Biomass flows through the UK economy – an overview of biomass sources and overseas land requirements 2011

Freshwater Marine Terrestrial Human Activities JNCC Publications Pressures 0963-8091 JNCC report series 452 Biodiversity Cost-benefit analysis Economics Ecosystem Environmental accounting Flows Mass flows Materials Natural assets Natural resources Value

Abstract

Under current production and consumption conditions the United Kingdom cannot produce sufficient biomass to meet the national demand for food, building materials or bioenergy. Analysis of the flow of biomass through the economy – including domestic production, imports and exports – indicates that one third of the biomass material consumed in the UK is imported. Currently the UK imports 40% of its food and 75% of its biofuels. These imported materials, which vary from highly processed commodities through to basic raw materials, are the product of overseas agricultural and forest systems upon which the UK is dependent.

Long term trends show that the UK economy (as measured by GDP) grew consistently between 1990 and 2008 but there was no overall increase in consumption of domestically produced natural resources – minerals, fossil fuels and biomass. Over the same period, however, imports have risen, making it clear that UK economic growth is dependent on imported raw materials and that the environmental impact of continued economic growth is likely to be felt overseas. The high volume of biomass imports for food, construction and bioenergy use makes it clear that we are drawing on significant amounts of primary production from overseas ecosystems. Forecasts for the future use of biomass for food, biofuels and the production of heat and power suggest this dependence will continue to increase.

Our dependence on overseas ecosystems makes it imperative that we take steps to ensure the long-term productivity of these systems. Routine monitoring and analysis of imports flows, identifying potential negative overseas impacts, and the formulation of policies to avoid or mitigate these, is therefore in the national interest.

Resource type Publication

Topic category Environment

Reference date 2011·05·01

Citation
Weighell, T. 2011. The global land use impact of the United Kingdom's biomass consumption Part 1: Biomass flows through the UK economy – an overview of biomass sources and overseas land requirements. JNCC Report No. 452, JNCC, Peterborough.

Lineage
This report collates information on biomass flows through the UK economy and provides an overview of biomass sources and overseas land requirements.

Responsible organisation
Communications, JNCC publisher

Limitations on public access No limitations

Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0

Metadata date 2020·05·19

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

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