Get an overview about the project outputs and related knowledge

H2) Riverine biomass for a bio-economy

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

Contact details

Swinda Pfau

Radboud University Nijmegen

Download here the summary poster and the PhD thesis related to this project.

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.


The land surrounding rivers is characterized 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 organizations 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: Collaborative Governance Integrated management

Overview of the greenhouse gas emissions of different residual biomass applications and the processing locations in the Netherlands.

Innovative components

In this project, we compare the carbon footprint of different applications of riverine biomass and analyze how biomass use is currently organized by Dutch water management organizations. 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. Our project also 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 (see Figure).

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: Project duration

Application development & findings

We found that changing the use of residual biomass to provide resources to a bioeconomy is not automatically sustainable. We analyzed how vegetation management and the use of biomass is currently organized in water management organizations 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. 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) Rhine 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 updated: 10/02/2020

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

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

Also applicable to this project

Residual biomass from Dutch riverine areas—From waste to ecosystem service

We provide information on biomass applications and type of contractual arrangements for using residual riverine biomass as ecosystem service.

18/01/2019 by Astrid Bout 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.


How to use biomass from riverine areas? Two projects, two approaches, one PhD journey

17/06/2019 by Swinda Pfau

A transdisciplinary approach to sustainable biomass use: combining green house gas emission calculations and interviews with river managers.

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RiverCare meeting room


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Anything to ask or share?

About us

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