BioEnergy Research

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 1523–1537 | Cite as

Perennial Grass Production Opportunities on Marginal Mediterranean Land

  • Ana Luisa FernandoEmail author
  • Sara Boléo
  • Bruno Barbosa
  • Jorge Costa
  • Maria Paula Duarte
  • Andrea Monti


An increasing global awareness that the supply and security of petroleum-based materials is diminishing, coupled with environmental concerns related to climate change, water availability, and soil degradation, has increased demand for more renewable, diversified, and sustainable agricultural production systems. The objective of this work was to determine if a biogenic approach, focused on producing perennial grasses on marginal Mediterranean land as feedstock for bioenergy or bio-based products, could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without depleting soil nutrients, water supplies, or negatively impacting biological and landscape diversity. This study, funded by European Union (EU), was conducted under project optimization of perennial grasses for biomass production (OPTIMA) using environmental impact assessment (EIA) protocols to quantify local environmental impacts of producing perennial grasses, in the Mediterranean region. Different end uses were investigated and biogenic products were compared with conventional ones. The EIA assessment indicated that the biogenic system had low erodibility potential, reduced disturbance of soil properties, and minimal hydrological impacts. Less tillage and high biomass production supported biological and landscape diversity, but site-specific factors should be used to appropriately match the specific crop and location. We conclude that producing perennial grasses on marginal Mediterranean land is feasible and if appropriately managed will have relatively few environmental side effects.


Perennial grasses Sustainability Environmental impacts Bioenergy Marginal land Mediterranean region 



The authors would like to acknowledge the European Union for financially supporting this work through the OPTIMA project: optimization of perennial grasses for biomass production, Grant Agreement No.: 289642, Collaborative project, FP7-KBBE-2011.3.1-02. We thank all our colleagues in the OPTIMA project, which contributed directly and indirectly to the contents of this paper. Special thanks go to Nils Rettenmaier and to the team at IFEU, for fruitful and informative discussions concerning this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Luisa Fernando
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sara Boléo
    • 1
  • Bruno Barbosa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jorge Costa
    • 1
  • Maria Paula Duarte
    • 1
  • Andrea Monti
    • 3
  1. 1.MEtRiCS, Departamento de Ciências e Tecnologia da Biomassa, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, FCTUniversidade Nova de LisboaCaparicaPortugal
  2. 2.Universidade Federal do Oeste da BahiaBarreirasBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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