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ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2014, 3(2), 430-459; doi:10.3390/ijgi3020430

Mapping the Potential for Biofuel Production on Marginal Lands: Differences in Definitions, Data and Models across Scales

Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley 130 Mulford Hall #3114, Berkeley, CA 94720-3114, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 19 February 2014 / Accepted: 27 February 2014 / Published: 1 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue GIS for Renewable Energy)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [451 KB, uploaded 2 April 2014]


As energy policies mandate increases in bioenergy production, new research supports growing bioenergy feedstocks on marginal lands. Subsequently there has been an increase in published work that uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the availability of marginal land as a proxy for bioenergy crop potential. However, despite the similarity in stated intent among these works a number of inconsistencies remain across studies that make comparisons and standardization difficult. We reviewed a collection of recent literature that mapped bioenergy potential on marginal lands at varying scales, and found that there is no common working definition of marginal land across all of these works. Specifically, we found considerable differences in mapped results that are driven by dissimilarities in definitions, model framework, data inputs, scale and treatment of uncertainty. Most papers reviewed here employed relatively simple GIS overlays of input criteria, distinct thresholds identifying marginal land, and few details describing accuracy and uncertainty. These differences are likely to be major impediments to integration of studies mapping marginal lands for bioenergy production. We suggest that there is future need for spatial modeling of bioenergy, yet further scholarship is needed to compare across countries and scales to understand the global potential for bioenergy crops. View Full-Text
Keywords: marginal land; degraded/abandoned land; GIS; bioenergy; biofuels; spatial analysis marginal land; degraded/abandoned land; GIS; bioenergy; biofuels; spatial analysis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Lewis, S.M.; Kelly, M. Mapping the Potential for Biofuel Production on Marginal Lands: Differences in Definitions, Data and Models across Scales. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2014, 3, 430-459.

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