Reference categories

LEGEU LegislationECPEC Policy Documents
ECTEC Technical DocumentsORGInternational Organisations (excluding organisations dealing with standards)
AGEAgency Documents (e.g. EEA, US agencies reports and glossaries)STLScientific & Technical Literature
OWNBiomass Study own Definition(GLO)Glossary (subcategory only)


AGE - Macroalgae, or seaweeds, represent a broad group of eukaryotic photosynthetic marine organisms. Unlike microalgae, they are multicellular class of algae and possess plant-like structural features that grow to large size (50 cm up to 60 m in length). They are typically comprised of a blade or lamina, the stipe, and holdfast for anchoring the entire structure to hard substrates in marine environments. The life cycles of macroalgae are complex and diverse, with different species displaying variations of annual and perennial life histories, combinations of reproductive strategies and alternation of generations.

(U.S.DOE, 2010, National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Biomass Program, Washington D.C.)


Main crop

LEG - Where during one harvest year several crops are grown in succession on an area the main crop is the crop that has the highest value of the production. If the value of production does not determine which the main crop is, then the main crop is taken as the one that occupies the ground for the longest time.

(EU, 1999, Commission Decision of 24 November 1999 relating to the definitions of the characteristics, the list of agricultural products, the exceptions to the definitions and the regions and districts regarding the surveys on the structure of agricultural holdings (notified under document number C(1999) 3875). OJ L38, 12.02.2000, pp. 1-57.)



ORG (GLO) - Waste materials produced by domestic livestock which can be managed for agricultural purposes. When manure is managed in a way that involves anaerobic decomposition, significant emissions of methane can result.

(FAOc, FAO Statistics Division, http://faostat.fao.org/site/375/default.aspx, accessed 23 September 2015.)


ECT (GLO) - Liquid manure is urine from domestic animals including possibly a small amount of excrement and/or water.

(Eurostat b, Glossary, accessed 14 October 2016.)


Marginal land

ORG (GLO) - Is land of poor quality with regard to agricultural use, and unsuitable for housing and other uses.

(OECD, Glossary of Statistical Terms, http://stats.oecd.org/glossary/, accessed 25 March 2015.)



ECT (GLO) - Is understood that the cultivation of the end product takes place in seawater, such as fjords, inshore and open waters and inland seas in which the salinity generally exceeds 20 ‰. Earlier stages in the life cycle of these aquatic organisms may be spent in brackishwater or freshwater.

(Eurostat b, Glossary, accessed 14 October 2016.)


STL - Aquaculture practiced in a marine environment.

(Delgado, C.L., Wada, N., Rosegrant, M.W., Meijer, S. and Ahmed, M., 2003, Fish to 2020. Supply and demand in changing global markets, Appendix F, WorldFishCenter Technical Report 62, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washinton D.C., World Fish Center, Bayan Lepas, Malaysia.)


Mass balance

STA - Relationship between input and output of a specific substance within a system in which the output from the system cannot exceed the input into the system.

(EN 16575:2014 Adapted from ISO 6107-3:1993 and EN 16214-1:2012)

(EN 16575:2014, European Committee for Standardisation,  Technical Committee 411 (CEN TC/411) , Bio-based products – Vocabulary, Mandate M/492, August 2014.)



STL - Substance that is exploited by humans in their practical activities.

(Vert, M., Y. Doi, et al. (IUPAC Polymer Division) 2012, 'Terminology for biorelated polymers and applications (IUPAC Recommendations 2012)', Pure Applied Chemistry 84 (2), pp. 377-410.)


Material flow accounts (MFA)

ECT (GLO) - Eurostat’s material flow accounts are a comprehensive data framework that systematically records the inputs of materials to European economies, breaking them down by material category such as fossil energy materials, biomass, metal ores etc.

(Eurostat b, Glossary, accessed 14 October 2016.)


Material use / Industrial material use

STL - In “material use” the biomass serves as raw material for the (industrial) production of all kinds of goods as well as their direct use in products. This clearly distinguishes it from energy use, in which the biomass serves purely as an energy source.

(Carus, M., Piotrowski, S., Raschka, A. et al., 2010, The development of instruments to support the material use of renewable raw materials in Germany (Summary), Nova-Institut, Hürth, Germany, October 2010.)


Maximum sustainable yield (MSY)

ORG (GLO) - The highest theoretical equilibrium yield that can be continuously taken (on average) from a stock under existing (average) environmental conditions without affecting significantly the reproduction process. Also referred to sometimes as Potential yield.

(FAOb, Fisheries Glossary, http://www.fao.org/fi/glossary/default.asp, accessed 23 September 2015.)


STL - The largest average catch or yield that can continuously be taken from a stock under existing environmental conditions. For species with fluctuating recruitment, the maximum might be obtained by taking fewer fish in some years than in others.

Also called: maximum equilibrium catch (MEC); maximum sustained yield; sustainable catch.

(Ricker, W.E., 1975, 'Computation and interpretation of biological statistics of fish populations'. Bulletin of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 191: 2-6)

- Note: It is estimated from surplus production models (e.g. Schaefer model) and other methods. In practice, however, MSY, and the level of effort needed to reach it are difficult to assess. Referred to in UNCLOS, it is an essential fisheries management benchmark but it is also only one of the possible Management reference points, considered also as an international minimum standard for stock rebuilding strategies (i.e. stocks should be rebuilt to a level of biomass which could produce at least MSY). Sometimes confused with: Optimum yield.



STL - A class of compounds originating from the hydrolysis of triglycerides into fatty acids, followed by the addition of an alcohol group on the end of the fatty acid. These are produced during transesterification. The methyl-esters from the conversion of vegetable oil are called biodiesel.

(Darzins, A., Pienkos, P. and Edye, L., 2010, Current status and potential for algal biofuels production. A report to IEA Bioenergy Task 39, Report T39-T2, August 2010.)



ORG (GLO) - Microscopic, motile or non-motile chlorophyll-containing plant.

(FAOa, Glossary of Aquaculture, http://www.fao.org/fi/glossary/aquaculture/default.asp, accessed 23 September 2015)


STL - Microalgae are defined as photosynthetic cells that are mostly unicellular, although some complex associations giving colonies with larger structures exist. This is a very heterogeneous group comprising prokaryotic organisms similar to bacteria (cyanobacteria, also called bluegreen algae) and eukaryotic organisms, such as diatoms. They can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats, being able to thrive in freshwater, brackish, marine and hypersaline aquatic environments. They have been reported also in desert crust communities, thereby being able to endure temperature extremes and low water availability.

(Darzins, A., Pienkos, P. and Edye, L., 2010, Current status and potential for algal biofuels production. A report to IEA Bioenergy Task 39, Report T39-T2, August 2010.)



STL - Organisms that grow as autotroph and heterotroph, thereby utilizing both organic compounds and CO2 for their growth.

(Richmond, A., 2004, Handbook of Microalgal Culture: Biotechnology and Applied Phycology, Amos Richmond (editor), 588 pp, Wiley-Blackwell.)


Modern biomass [ENE]

ORG (GLO) - Includes all biomass with the exception of traditional biomass.

(IEA, International Energy Agency, Glossary of term, accessed 23 September 2015.)



DIC - A molecule of low molecular weight capable of chemically reacting to another molecule of the same type to form a larger molecule, such as dimer, trimer, tetramer, polymer, etc.

(Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015, https://www.britannica.com/, accessed 23 September 2015.)


Multi-functionality [LCA]

ECP - If a process or facility provides more than one function, i.e. it delivers several goods and/or services ("co-products"), it is “multifunctional”. In these situations, all inputs and emissions linked to the process must be partitioned between the product of interest and the other co-products in a principled manner.

(EC, 2013a, Commission Recommendation of 9 April 2013 on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations. OJ L124, 04.05.2013, pp. 1-210.)