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Biofuels Experts

While many environmental organizations have become involved in the biofuels debate, CI has a special set of competencies and areas of expertise which allow it to play a unique role in the effort to create a sustainable biofuels industry. Specifically, CI can bring to the table: recognized scientific expertise, business engagement, field presence and industry-appropriate tools that allow the private sector to identify important areas of biodiversity conservation and factor that into their business plans.

Below are brief bios of our biofuels experts, in both science and business, and some little known facts about biofuels, tropical forests and the role forests and deforestation plays in the complex issue of climate change.

Also, note CI would be happy to put you in touch with our field specialists in countries/regions of interest, including: Brazil/Amazon, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.


John Buchanan
Senior Director, Business Practices
Conservation International
As Senior Director of Business Practices, John manages partnerships with food and agribusiness companies such as Bunge, Cargill, and McDonald’s. These partnerships are addressing a range of issues that includes land-use planning in soy producing regions of Brazil, best practices in oil palm plantation management, and development of supply chain tools for improved environmental stewardship.

John also oversees CI’s work on biofuels and is leading an initiative to build greater NGO capacity to create constructive private sector partnerships in high-biodiversity value regions of the world. Read more about John .

Chris Dragisic
Manager, Business Practices, Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries
Conservation International
In her position as manager in the business practices team at CI, Chris works to engage the private sector on developing solutions to environmental problems which create benefits for the companies, society, and the environment. She is coordinating CI's biofuels initiatives, which strive to ensure that biofuel development does not pose risks to biodiversity and ecosystems.

Chris also works with forestry companies globally to facilitate the incorporation conservation and sustainable management activities at a landscape scale. In Brazil, she works with agribusiness companies including Bunge, as well as local civil society organizations, to promote sustainable land use through the BioCerrado Alliance. Read more about Chris.

Brian Gurr
Manager, Business Practices, Agriculture
Conservation International
As Manager of the Agriculture program in The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB), Brian manages relationships between private sector businesses engaged in food and agriculture production and CI around the world, contributing to development of corporate engagement strategies for CI programs in key regions. Brian leads CELB’s engagement with oil palm companies. In Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, he coordinates and provides technical assistance to projects focusing on best management practices for biodiversity conservation in oil palm producing landscapes. Read more about Brian.


Keith Alger, PhD
Vice President, Global Change and Ecosystem Services
Center for Applied Biodiversity Science
Conservation International
Keith leads a research team at CI examining where biodiversity conservation has the potential to achieve high returns in clean water and reduced carbon emissions. As part of this effort, Keith works on identifying ways to produce biofuels that effectively lower carbon emissions while not displacing native forests, savannahs, and wetlands.

Additionally, tools for mapping the land cover change risk are being developed to target low productivity areas (areas less desirable for biofuels production) so that they may be considered for biodiversity conservation in tropical production landscapes.

Timothy J. Killeen, PhD
Senior Research Fellow
Conservation International
Tim is a conservation biologist who lives in the Bolivian Amazon where sugar cane is a major cash crop and soy has expanded exponentially over the last two decades. Tim is working with the US embassies in Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia to advise potential biofuel producers on environmental and social issues with the goal of promoting sustainable production systems.

Tim recently published a report called, A Perfect Storm in the Amazon Wilderness that includes a chapter specifically addressing the risk from biofuels to increase deforestations and exacerbate carbon emissions.

  • The global demand for biofuels has been increasing sharply in recent years, with an annual growth rate of 15-20% expected over the next two decades.

  • Biofuels are produced from a number of different crops. Sugar cane, sugar beets, corn, wheat, barley, and other grain and starch crops can be transformed into ethanol using current technologies. Methanol is produced from wood fiber as well. Palm nuts, jatropha beans, rapeseed, sunflower seed, cotton seed, castor beans, and soybeans are all used to produce biodiesel.

  • The United States (50%) and Brazil (36%) are currently the largest consumers of ethanol, while the European Union (75%) is the largest market for biodiesel. While some biofuel crops are currently grown in North America (corn) and Europe (rapeseed), the tropics present the greatest opportunity for the expansion of the biofuel industry.

  • With 19 million tons of CO2 entering the atmosphere from deforestation each day, tropical deforestation and other land use changes produce some 20 percent of all the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – more than all the cars, trucks, planes and trains combined.

  • Brazil and Indonesia are the third and fourth largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, after the U.S. and China, and land use change accounts for 70-90 percent of their total emissions.

  • Of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide, nearly 90 percent depend on forest ecosystems and the services they provide, such as freshwater, protection from storms and floods, and crop pollination, for their livelihoods.


© CI, Justin Ward
Combine harvester, Brazil.


Manager, Corporate Communications
Office: (703)341-2768

A Perfect Storm in the Amazon Wilderness

• Online Chat with Tim Killen about Biofuels