Biomass production and land use management in the Italian context: regulations, conflicts, and impacts
Renewable energy sources, such as biomass can make a positive impact on climate change phenomenon by decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels. The use of biomass energy is directly linked to the use of the land, from which biomass feedstock is obtained, such as farm land and forests, and its ecosystem services. The biomass production and the use of land and ecosystem services are usually associated with a wide range of environmental and social impacts, depending on what choices are made regarding what types of biomass are used, as well as where and how they are produced. Choosing management practices that minimize negative impacts and complement planning policies and energy production objectives is often associated with land-use conflicts among both different institutional levels, local, national and European, and different social actors. Yet, European Directive 2009/28/CE establishes that the energy production from renewable energy by 2020, as well as from biofuel, defined for each member state (Annex 1), must be achieved through a "sustainable" production. Such definition is assigned to national and local contexts, arising issues in policy making, conflicts analysis and methodologies. The present paper discusses on the recent acknowledgment of the above mentioned EU directive in several Italian Regions, such as Puglia and Marche, which have defined regulations/guidelines regarding their potential contribution to the national objectives of production and consumption of energy from renewable sources (EFR). Moreover, the present paper confronts such regulations with results found in literature. Several analyses have been done on the energy production from biomass based on technical and economic aspects of the problem. However, few studies have applied integrated approaches able to take into consideration crucial aspects such as biodiversity conservation and landscape fragmentation, as required by EU Directive 2009/28/CE, side by side with the economic and social dimensions. This paper aims at filling this gap proposing the application of an integrated framework of analysis, based on multi-criteria approaches able to take into consideration socio-economic, environmental and landscape criteria, as well as institutional and social conflicts linked to the biomass production.
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