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    Kazakhstan will next year adopt laws to regulate its fledgling biofuel industry and plans to construct at least two more plants in the next 18 months to produce environmentally friendly fuel from crops, industry officials said. According to Akylbek Kurishbayev, vice-minister for agriculture, he Central Asian country has the potential to produce 300,000 tons a year of biodiesel and export half. Kazakhstan could also produce up to 1 billion liters of bioethanol, he said. "The potential is huge. If we use this potential wisely, we can become one of the world's top five producers of biofuels," Beisen Donenov, executive director of the Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, said on the sidelines of a grains forum. Reuters - November 30, 2007.

    SRI Consulting released a report on chemicals from biomass. The analysis highlights six major contributing sources of green and renewable chemicals: increasing production of biofuels will yield increasing amounts of biofuels by-products; partial decomposition of certain biomass fractions can yield organic chemicals or feedstocks for the manufacture of various chemicals; forestry has been and will continue to be a source of pine chemicals; evolving fermentation technology and new substrates will also produce an increasing number of chemicals. Chemical Online - November 27, 2007.

    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

    Timber products company China Grand Forestry Resources Group announced that it would acquire Yunnan Shenyu New Energy, a biofuels research group, for €560/$822 million. Yunnan Shenyu New Energy has developed an entire industrial biofuel production chain, from a fully active energy crop seedling nursery to a biorefinery. Cleantech - November 16, 2007.

    Northern European countries launch the Nordic Bioenergy Project - "Opportunities and consequences of an expanding bio energy market in the Nordic countries" - with the aim to help coordinate bioenergy activities in the Nordic countries and improve the visibility of existing and future Nordic solutions in the complex field of bioenergy, energy security, competing uses of resources and land, regional development and environmental impacts. A wealth of data, analyses and cases will be presented on a new website - Nordic Energy - along with announcements of workshops during the duration of project. Nordic Energy - November 14, 2007.

    Global Partners has announced that it is planning to increase its refined products and biofuels storage capacity in Providence, Rhode Island by 474,000 barrels. The partnership has entered into agreements with New England Petroleum Terminal, at a deepwater marine terminal located at the Port of Providence. PRInside - November 14, 2007.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicks off the meeting in Valencia, Spain, which will result in the production of the Synthesis Report on climate change. The report will summarize the core findings of the three volumes published earlier by the separate working groups. IPCC - November 12, 2007.

    Biopact's Laurens Rademakers is interviewed by Mongabay on the risks of large-scale bioenergy with carbon storage (BECS) proposals. Even though Biopact remains positive about BECS, because it offers one of the few safe systems to mitigate climate change in a drastic way, care must be take to avoid negative impacts on tropical forests. Mongabay - November 10, 2007.

    According to the latest annual ranking produced by The Scientist, Belgium is the world's best country for academic research, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Belgium's top position is especially relevant for plant, biology, biotechnology and bioenergy research, as these are amongst the science fields on which it scores best. The Scientist - November 8, 2007.

    Mascoma Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, today announced the acquisition of Celsys BioFuels, Inc. Celsys BioFuels was formed in 2006 to commercialize cellulosic ethanol production technology developed in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue University. The Celsys technology is based on proprietary pretreatment processes for multiple biomass feedstocks, including corn fiber and distiller grains. The technology was developed by Dr. Michael Ladisch, an internationally known leader in the field of renewable fuels and cellulosic biofuels. He will be taking a two-year leave of absence from Purdue University to join Mascoma as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Business Wire - November 7, 2007.

    Bemis Company, Inc. announced today that it will partner with Plantic Technologies Limited, an Australian company specializing in starch-based biopolymers, to develop and sell renewably resourced flexible films using patented Plantic technology. Bemis - November 7, 2007.

    Hungary's Kalocsa Hõerõmû Kft is to build a HUF 40 billion (€158.2 million) straw-fired biomass power plant with a maximum capacity of 49.9 megawatts near Kalocsa in southern Hungary. Portfolio Hungary - November 7, 2007.

    Canada's Gemini Corporation has received approval to proceed into the detailed engineering, fabrication and construction phases of a biogas cogeneration facility located in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, the first of its kind whereby biogas production is enhanced through the use of Thermal Hydrolysis technology, a high temperature, high pressure process for the safe destruction of SRM material from the beef industry. The technology enables a facility to redirect waste material, previously shipped to landfills, into a valuable feedstock for the generation of electricity and thermal energy. This eliminates the release of methane into the environment and the resultant solids are approved for use as a land amendment rather than re-entering the waste stream. In addition, it enhances the biogas production process by more than 25%. Market Wire - November 7, 2007.

    A new Agency to manage Britain's commitment to biofuels was established today by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be responsible for the day to day running of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, coming into force in April next year. By 2010, the Obligation will mean that 5% of all the fuels sold in the UK should come from biofuels, which could save 2.6m to 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. eGov Monitor - November 5, 2007.

    Prices for prompt loading South African coal cargoes reached a new record last week with a trade at $85.00 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) for a February cargo. Strong Indian demand and tight supply has pushed South African prices up to record levels from around $47.00 at the beginning of the year. European DES/CIF ARA coal prices have remained fairly stable over the past few days, having traded up to a record $130.00 a tonne DES ARA late last week. Fair value is probably just below $130.00 a tonne, traders said. At this price, some forms of biomass become directly competitive with coal. Reuters Africa - November 4, 2007.

    The government of India's Harayana state has decided to promote biomass power projects based on gasification in a move to help rural communities replace costly diesel and furnace oil. The news was announced during a meeting of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA). Six pilot plants have demonstrated the efficiency and practicability of small-scale biomass gasification. Capital subsidies will now be made available to similar projects at the rate of Rs 2.5 lakh (€4400) per 100 KW for electrical applications and Rs 2 lakh (€3500) per 300 KW for thermal applications. New Kerala - November 1, 2007.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

AIDS, a threat to rural Africa

On the occasion of the 20th World Aids Day, it may be interesting to pause and think of some of the less well known consequences of the pandemic. According to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the disease is becoming a greater threat in rural areas than in cities of the developing world, contrary to conventional wisdom. Growing links between rural and urban areas through trade, migration and improved transportation networks have made HIV prevalence rates rise faster in rural areas.

A 65-year-old Malawian woman takes care
of her nine grandchildren, whose parents have died of AIDS.

Major findings about this devastating trend, using data for sub-Saharan Africa, home to the most-affected countries, can be summarized as follows.

AIDS is mostly a rural issue
  • More than two thirds of the population of the 25 most-affected African countries live in rural areas.
  • Information and health services are less available in rural areas than in cities. Rural people are therefore less likely to know how to protect themselves from HIV and, if they fall ill, less likely to get care.
  • Costs of HIV/AIDS are largely borne by rural communities as HIV-infected urban dwellers of rural origin often return to their communities when they fall ill.
  • HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects economic sectors such as agriculture, transportation and mining that have large numbers of mobile or migratory workers.
AIDS undermines agriculture because of its toll on the labour force
  • AIDS has killed around 7 million agricultural workers since 1985 in the 25 hardest-hit countries in Africa. It could kill 16 million more before 2020.
  • More than a third of the gross national product of the most-affected countries comes from agriculture.
  • In contrast to other diseases, AIDS mostly devastates the productive age group -- people between 15 and 50 years.
  • Up to 25 percent of the agricultural labour force could be lost in countries of sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 (map, click to enlarge).
  • AIDS reduces productivity as people become ill and die and others spend time caring for the sick, mourning and attending funerals. The result is severe labour shortages for both farm and domestic work.
  • Labour-intensive farming systems with a low level of mechanization and agricultural input are particularly vulnerable to AIDS.
AIDS undermines the sustainability of development
  • People are dying before they can pass on knowledge and expertise to the next generation. A study in Kenya showed that only 7 percent of agricultural households headed by orphans had adequate knowledge of agricultural production.
  • In Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture, 58 percent of all staff deaths are caused by AIDS, and in Malawi's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation at least 16 percent of the staff are living with the disease. One study found that up to 50 percent of agricultural extension staff time was lost through HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In the first ten months of 1998, Zambia lost 1 300 teachers to AIDS -- the equivalent of around two thirds of all new teachers trained annually.
  • The sale of productive resources to care for the sick and pay for funerals diverts funds away from long-term development.
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

AIDS threatens food security
  • The loss of productive members of society is severely affecting household capacity to produce and buy food.
  • Fostering AIDS orphans or hosting and caring for sick relatives reduces the amount of food available for each household member.
  • Evidence from Namibia shows widespread sale and slaughter of livestock to support the sick and provide food for mourners at funerals. This jeopardizes the livestock industry and longer-term food security and survival options.
AIDS affects rural women disproportionately
  • Women whose husbands are migrant workers are especially vulnerable to AIDS, as their spouses may have other sexual partners. The women themselves may engage in commercial sex in periods of economic stress.
  • Some of the traditional mechanisms to ensure widows' access to land contribute to the spread of AIDS -- for example, levirate, the custom that obliges a man to marry his brother's widow. Unfortunately, initiatives to stop these practices may leave widows without access to land and food.
  • Biological and social factors make women more vulnerable to AIDS, especially in adolescence and youth. In many places HIV infection has been found to be three to five times higher in young women than in young men.
  • In several countries, studies have found that rural women whose husbands had died of AIDS were forced to engage in commercial sex to survive because they had no legal rights to their husband's property.
All illustrations credit of the FAO.

FAO: HIV/AIDS: a rural issue.

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REEEP and Austrian government launch CDM project in Uganda to reduce emissions from charcoal

If you do not have access to electricity, it makes sense to turn to the wood that surrounds you for energy. In many parts of Africa, it is not unusual to see villagers strolling into the woods, chopping down trees or branches, covering them up and lighting them. After a patient wait lasting a few days they will find that the pile of wood has become charcoal - a traditional type of biofuel.

It is an easy solution. Used throughout the continent, charcoal is a versatile source of fuel for cooking. But fumes are a serious health risk and release large amounts of greenhouse gases. Few governments in Africa, though, have taken the trouble to help people manage charcoal production and burning practices more effectively. A new capacity building project in Uganda funded by the Austrian government in the context of the Austrian Joint Implementation/Clean Development Mechanism-Programme now aims not only to do just that, but to use the experience to help earn carbon credits while also helping break through the barriers holding back more African CDM projects of different kinds.

As is well known, compared to India, China and Latin America, the continent has not attracted many CDM projects, a mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol which lets rich nations fund clean energy projects in developing countries, then claim credits back home for delivering greenhouse gas cuts. African governments themselves have called for more assistance to attract CDM investments (previous post) and the Austrian initiative could prove to be the much needed catalyst.

Gertraud Wollansky, an executive at the Austrian Environment Ministry, which is drawing on the resources of multilateral clean energy organisation the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) for the project says most of Sub-Saharan Africa is basically blank on the map as far as CDM is concerned (take this quite literally, see the interactive CDM projects map here, or click to enlarge). The ministry wants to help develop an energy efficient method for producing charcoal and avoiding methane emissions, but is also interested in hydropower, biodiesel and biogas:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The Nile experience
There are good reasons starting in Uganda, which is already pioneering one of the few African CDM projects that are not based in Tunisia or South Africa. Engineers working on the West Nile Electrification Project (WNEP) have constructed a 3.5 MW hydropower plant on the banks of the White Nile (a tributary of the main river Nile) which flows out from Lake Victoria in the heart of the continent. That project has received funding from the World Bank and other international organisations and will cut demand for diesel and thermal power as well as kerosene and paraffin. It will also avoid transport emissions from fuel trucks.

It is one of the building blocks used by Wollansky and her colleagues, giving them more knowledge, and enabling them to create another project. That in turn will provide the team with new insights, eventually perhaps creating a domino effect.

“The project that is finally selected will be a pilot in the sense that we hope that if we can demonstrate a project really works, other projects will be able to follow this example and can use the experience we’ve gained,” she explains. Three other countries, in which the Ministry is also working in conjunction with REEEP, are equally suitable candidates for similar groundbreaking projects: Ethopia, Ghana and Tanzania. In Ghana, they are interested in introducing more methane capture and biogeneration as well as helping fuel switching from oil to gas.

Dam busting
None of these countries are secure places to operate in, regardless of whether the project in question relates to clean energy or other industries. Control Risks, a consultancy that estimates the risk of investing in different countries all over the world, says Uganda and Ethiopia present a high security risk (alongside Zimbabwe, Israel and Russia) while Ghana and Tanzania present a medium security risk. The estimates are based on the effectiveness of the rule of law, government stability, likely damage to infrastructure and other considerations.

“Very few African countries have the kind of credit ratings which will allow loans to get through,” says Wollansky, pointing out one of the main financial barriers affecting clean energy development. Hence, they need support, which the Austrian government will provide by following the project right through to its final stages.

A WNEP executive elaborates further on Uganda: “the lack of a capital market available to Independent Power Producers (IPPs), the utility company’s inability to provide the required financing, the consumers’ low ability to pay, and the high upfront investment would preclude the WNEP from coming to fruition,” he explains, referring also to particularly risky energy and infrastructure sectors in Uganda as well as inflation and currency risks.

Moody’s and other agencies have not even rated Uganda, because of political and socio-economic instability. Security is an important issue considering the history of political instability in the Great Lakes Region over the last decades. But the four countries in question have been selected because they – unlike some other African countries - have a well functioning Designated National Authority (DNA) set up to deal with CDM project applications, despite their fragile financial climate.

This means that REEEP and the Austrian team will not be building from scratch and this in turn will enable them to reach their targets in the two years that are available; there are more synergies with these countries than with others in the region. Fast developing nations like China and India have set up DNAs some years ago and their institutions are better acquainted with the CDM. They also have a store of the required skills available on the spot and a less bumpy investment climate. These are core reasons why they constantly leapfrog other developing nations.
African countries need to have enough resources to prepare the project and overcome several bureaucratic constraints. Even if they have the skills available, the connection to CDM-related knowledge is not often there. - Gertraud Wollansky, Austrian Environment Ministry
The consortium will be aiming to fill in these gaps in order to help lay the foundations for greater skills, administrative and intellectual capacity for more clean energy.

Missing links

According to Wollansky, the relations with the Ugandan DNA are “well advanced”. One of the tasks is to build links between different elements of the project – for instance between the capacity building activities (relating to administration and skills) and the actual project construction itself, or between different pools of expertise.

REEEP’s work in Africa will provide a useful source of information and act as a communication tool. “We’ll be using the network REEEP has in Africa to establish contacts to distribute the knowledge. We want to start pilots that can be multiplied on the ground, and REEEP can play a big role in the multiplication effect,” she comments.

As the WNEP executive notes, there is plenty more potential for hydropower in the West Nile region which in the first instance could help develop agricultural businesses; these pay high energy bills and experience regular power cuts at peak periods because of a lack of capacity. In the longer term, Wollansky visualises several small-scale power projects (below 15MW) as well as efficient charcoal production, though the transaction costs for these are often nearly as high as for the larger-scale projects. However, the CDM procedures for smaller projects are simpler.

“We are not exclusively focussing on small scale projects in our African initiative, we would welcome large scale as well. As it is, there are simply more small scale than large scale project opportunities offered in Africa,” says Wollansky. Small or large, by improving the disjointed work often carried out by different elements in a project’s development, it is expected that some of the transaction costs will eventually be cut.

Hat tip to Eva!

REEEP: Traude Wollansky discusses CDM in Africa - s.d. [November 2007].

UNFCCC - Clean Development Mechanism: CDM projects location.

Biopact: Africa needs help to win clean energy investments - November 06, 2006

Biopact: WHO: indoor air pollution takes heavy toll on health in the developing world - May 01, 2007

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Austria opens most modern biomass district heating plant in Hohe Tauern National Park

Austrian energy and infrastructure company Salzburg AG and the community of Pingzau have opened one of the country's most modern biomass district heating plants, located in the Hohe Tauern National Park, central Europe's largest protected nature reserve. The high peaks and glaciers of this magnificent Alpine region feel the impact of climate change more than any other place, which is why the community demanded a climate friendly energy solution. A highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) plant was therefor selected to deliver electricity and heat to local residents, industry and institutions. It will utilize forestry residues from the region. Given that the Oberpingzau region is also tourism hotspot, the community decided to adopt an eco-friendly energy source that does not impact the landscape.

By drawing on renewable biomass, the plant reduces the region's carbon footprint. It also offers considerable cost-savings, given the high price of heating oil.

The district heating net, which will be expanded gradually, has the following characteristics:
  • investment: €1.89 (US$2.76) million
  • beginning of construction: 11 June 2007; end of construction: October 2007
  • raw materials: 4600 cubic meters of forestry residues per year
  • first district heating pipeline network: 2 kilometers long
  • direct clients: 60 institutions, businesses and residents for the first network
  • environmental impact: CO2 savings of 850 tonnes per annum
Local residents welcome the new network, which pumps hot water to them on demand, because heating their homes now becomes considerably less costly than doing it with heating oil. They no longer require the installation of personal heating systems, or have to go through the process of ordering, selecting and storing energy, but can take the service from the net with the touch of a button. The biomass plant reduces Pingzau's heating oil consumption by around 300,000 liters per year.
We are a tourism municipality at the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park. To us, climate friendly and pollution free power production is a special request. With pride we can say now to have the most advanced and modern biomass plant in the Federal Republic. - Balthasar Rainer, Pingzau Mayor
The local school, the tourism center, a new Spa resort and most small businesses inPingzau are connected to the net:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The CHP plant was designed to fit into the existing energy infrastructure, managed by Salzburg AG, which until now derived most of its energy from hydro-electricity. Combined, both renewable resources make the region almost entirely fossil free. According to Salzburg AG this project demonstrates that hydro and biomass power projects can contribute to strengthen energy security and autonomy in Austria, and that it does so in a competitive way.

Salzburg AG is an innovative and active player in the bioenergy sector. Recently it opened Austria's first biomethane gas stations, offering purified biogas made from grass (previous post).

The company is the biggest provider of energy and infrastructure throughout the federal state of Salzburg. With sales of €825,4 million in 2006 and about 2.000 employees, Salzburg AG is one of the leading and innovative energy suppliers in Austria. Key to success is its multiutility service: Energy, public transport and telecommunication are supplied by one source.

Salzburg AG: Biomasse-Heizwerk Wald: Vorzeigeprojekt geht in Betrieb - November 27, 2007.

Salzburg AG opens biomethane gas stations in Austria: driving on pure grass - November 24, 2007

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Canada announces $740,000 for Nova Scotia biofuels and ecological projects

Canada's Nova Scotia farmers will benefit from $740,000 in funding for six important projects studying biofuels and environmental farm practices. The announcement was made at the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture's Annual General Meeting by Guy Lauzon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board.

Five Nova Scotia projects totalling $228,093 are being funded under the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI), which is administered by Agri-Futures Nova Scotia. These projects aim to boost alternative fuel production and open up market opportunities for farmers. The feasibility studies will help determine the potential of alternative fuel production in Nova Scotia.

The BOPI is a two-year $20 million commitment by the Government of Canada designed to provide farmers and rural communities with opportunities to participate in, and benefit from, increased Canadian biofuel production (earlier post).

BOPI is part of the government's strategy to reach a target of increasing the average renewable content in all Canadian transportation fuel to five per cent by 2010 and intent to regulate a two per cent requirement for renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2012.

The following five projects will contribute to a healthier environment in the province while creating new market opportunities for farmers:
  1. $78,000 to ACA Cooperative to produce biodiesel from poultry litter and poultry processing waste;
  2. $56,000 to Fundy Biofuels Inc. for an ethanol marketing study;
  3. $45,000 to West Nova Agro-Commodities Ltd. for an assessment and business plan on revenue streams for waste generated by biofuels production in the use of a variety of waste in the Annapolis Valley;
  4. $43,750 to L and M Farm Holdings to study the feasibility of a 200,000 litre/year ethanol plant using carrot and potato waste, oat, barley and corn grains;
  5. $5,343 to SF Rendering to determine the capital costs to process Atlantic-produced canola into bio-diesel.
All five BOPI projects are delivered by Agri-Futures Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture will receive more than $511,000 for an Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S) pilot project. The Federation will establish a value for agri-environmental activities, such as the development of wetlands, which will benefit both farmers and the community. The project will also determine a potential payment to farmers who undertake these activities to help offset costs and encourage more environmental action:
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Nova Scotia's agriculture industry has invested in and has become the leader in environmental farm planning initiatives in Canada. This project will further demonstrate the benefits of that investment and will expand the adoption of best management practices. - Karen Casey, Member of the Legislative Assembly
The 'Nova Scotia Ecological Goods and Services Pilot Project' is based on 'Ecological Goods and Services' (EG&S) which are the positive environmental benefits that Canadians derive from healthy ecosystems, including clean water and air, and enhanced biodiversity. Agriculture is both a beneficiary and a provider of EG&S. For example, the viability of farming depends on ecosystem processes like soil renewal, climate regulation, and precipitation. At the same time, well-managed agricultural lands can provide benefits to broader society such as the protection of fish and wildlife habitat, preservation of scenic views, and purification of air and water through natural processes.

In Nova Scotia, the new funds will go to the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to determine a value for environmental activities and assign a potential payment for farmers undertaking these activities. It is one of the eight EG&S pilot projects being carried out across the country that will assist in measuring the feasibility of various approaches to environmental stewardship.

Specifically, this project will:
  • Survey Nova Scotia's farming community to assess costs and benefits and determine potential impact on farmers;
  • Enhance the St. Andrews River watershed through delivery of EG&S by all farms within the watershed; and
  • Assess the benefits of liming agricultural lands adjacent to watershed waterways.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is working with provincial and territorial governments to develop a framework for policies that are good for agriculture and that provide environmental benefits for all Canadians. Key elements of this work include research and pilot projects supported through the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program. These pilot projects will help AAFC and its provincial and territorial partners build a common understanding necessary in order to develop effective policies.

Last spring the Prime Minister announced a $225 million investment in a national campaign to acquire and preserve ecologically sensitive land. Recognized conservation groups will be identified to work towards this common goal. In addition, tax exemptions announced during Budget 2006 for donations of ecologically sensitive lands provide further incentives for Canadians to help preserve our environment.

The pilot project is receiving in-kind support from the Nova Scotia Departments of Agriculture and the Environment, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Town of Stewiacke and the St. Andrews Watershed Advisory Committee.

According to Frazer Hunter, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, it is widely recognized that certain public objectives such as enhancement and protection of biodiversity, environmental protection, leisure and even the aesthetics of the landscape can and do profit from the agricultural industry.
This government is standing up for farmers in Nova Scotia and across Canada by making sure they can get in on the ground floor of the emerging biofuels industry. We also recognize farmers as important stewards of our environment. - Parliamentary Secretary Lauzon.
Jean Ward, Chair of Agri-Futures Nova Scotia, says the goal is to help these five local firms study new and interesting ways to produce biofuels in their 'own back yards'. There are a lot of clever ideas out there just waiting to be harnessed, he added.

Agriculture and Agrifood Canada: Government of Canada announces $740,000 for Nova Scotia biofuels and ecological projects - November 30, 2007.

Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI).

Biopact: Canada's government invests $1 million in 12 biofuel projects in Quebec - August 22, 2007

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