Liquid biofuels have been used to power cars and other vehicles for more than a century. However, there has been increasing interest in biofuels in the past two decades, due to their potential benefits in terms of in increasing energy security, boosting rural development and reducing environmental impacts – particularly compared with fossil-derived alternatives.

This editorial introduces the Biomass and Bioenergy special issue on “Using an ecosystem services perspective to assess biofuel sustainability”. It sets out the conceptual foundations of ecosystem services approaches, and argues why these are so useful when assessing the sustainability implications of (liquid) biofuel production on local landscapes and their populations. Finally, it introduces the various studies in the special issue.