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H2) Riverine biomass for a bio-economy

Start: 01/2015
End: 04/2018
Status: Active

Contact details

Swinda Pfau

Radboud University Nijmegen

Different types of vegetation in riverine landscapes, ranging from grass on dikes to shrubs and trees in floodplains.

Project output

A quantitative and qualitative analysis of residual biomass use from vegetation management in riverine areas

Challenge

The land surrounding rivers is characterised by arable soils and high vegetation growth. Where floodplains are not occupied by agricultural production, vegetation must often be removed to ensure sufficient discharge capacities during high water levels. Water management organisations are interested in using biomass from riverine vegetation as ecosystem service. Riverine residual biomass can serve as resource for the bioeconomy and can be considered an Ecosystem Service, contributing to a more self-supporting river system. It is yet unclear which biomass applications are the most sustainable and how sustainable use of residual biomass can be achieved.

Key goals: Integrated management

Map of biomass processing locations along the Rhine tributaries in the Netherlands.

Innovative components

In this project, we compare the carbon footprint of different applications of riverine biomass and analyse how biomass use is currently organised by Dutch water management organisations. We combine quantitative and qualitative methods and applied a transdisciplinary approach, considering both stakeholder knowledge and experiences. We provide data on current practice and organisational structures which are valuable to practitioners in the Netherlands and internationally.

For whom and where?

Vegetation management departments of water management organisations in the Netherlands and internationally.

Data-collection methods: Interviews Life Cycle Assessment

Temporal scale: 1-10years 10-50 years

Application development & findings

We found that changing the use of residual biomass to provide resources to a bioeconomy is not automatically sustainable. Both the current and the envisaged use influence whether changing the way biomass is handled contributes to sustainability. Our project provides an extensive comparison of the greenhouse gas emissions of different residual biomass applications, showing that some uses result in emission benefits and others in burdens. We also analysed how vegetation management and the use of biomass is currently organised in water management organisations and found that there is a trend to consider the use of residual biomass as an ecosystem service, contributing to the bioeconomy. But formal comparison tools to be applied in tendering procedures are lacking, resulting in trial and error approaches and uncertainty.
Vegetation management practices should be adapted to make optimal use of residual biomass as an ecosystem service. Public organisations can play an important role in the development of residual biomass use in the Netherlands and internationally. Changing tendering procedures to include sustainability evaluation of biomass harvest and biomass use can stimulate creative solutions to collect biomass, instead of leaving it behind, and finding feasible, societally relevant applications.

Status for day-to-day practice

There are currently no formal, objective evaluation methods to compare the sustainability merits of different residual biomass applications. The insights and data from this project should be used to develop tools for vegetation managers to compare different applications during tendering procedures in the future.

Key locations where the study took place.

Key locations: IJssel River (NL) Nederrijn-Lek River (NL) Waal River (NL)

Spatial scale: Delta scale

Next steps

The insights and data from this project should be used to develop tools for vegetation managers to compare different applications during tendering procedures in the future.

Last modified: 21/02/2019

Explore the contact details to get to know more about the researchers, the supervisory team and the organizations that contribute to this project.

Main researcher

Swinda Pfau

Radboud University Nijmegen

Supervisory team

dr. Ben Dankbaar

Radboud University Nijmegen

Prof.dr. Toine Smits

Radboud University Nijmegen

Contributing partners

As soon as available, explore the storyline to get to know more about the main methods or prototype tools that were developed within this project.

Explore the output details for available publications to get a glance of the innovative components and implications to practice as well as the links to supporting datasets.

Project outputs

Residual biomass from Dutch riverine areas – from waste to ecosystem service

Water managers can stimulate the sustainable use of residual biomass with new tendering procedures.

18/01/2018 by Swinda Pfau et al.

View details View publication

Contains: Publication open access

Life cycle greenhouse gas benefits or burdens of residual biomass from landscape management

Residual biomass from landscape management can contribute to both greenhouse gas benefits and burdens, depending on the application.

24/01/2019 by Swinda Pfau

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Contains: Publication open access

Residual Biomass: A Silver Bullet to Ensure a Sustainable Bioeconomy?

Using residual biomass, such as grass and wood chips, as a resource instead of treating it as waste is not automatically more sustainable.

20/12/2018 by Swinda Pfau et al.

View details View publication

Contains: Publication open access

Take a look to the dissemination efforts and application experiences which are available in the news items and blogs.

Videos

RiverCare meeting room

01/11/2016

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About us

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