Pre-Publication Project Environment

Sustainability of Europe's soils

The pressures on maintaining the sustainability of Europe's soils and their ability to meet targets of food production, biodiversity, maintenance or increasing soil carbon content and other issues are being addressed in a project led by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

There has been one workshop meeting on „Sustainability of Europe’s Soils“, which contributed greatly to further sharpen the focus of EASAC’s scoping paper for a possible study. The KNAW (the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) has offered to take on ‘lead academy‘ responsibility for any EASAC activity on „Soils“.

The European Union’s Seventh Environment Action Programme recognises that soil degradation is a serious challenge and aims that by 2020 land should be managed sustainably in the EU, that soil is adequately protected, and that the remediation of contaminated sites well underway. In addition, in the framework of COP21, the French Government has proposed the “4 per 1000” strategy, which aims at increasing soil carbon levels with 4 per mil per year, in order to capture a substantial amount of carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel into the soil organic matter. Reports have also suggested that inadequate soil management may cause enhanced incidences of soil-borne diseases affecting not only plants, but also animals and humans.

The proposed EASAC study on the „Sustainability of Europe’s Soils“ would analyse solutions to prevent future soil degradation, consider how to secure the capacity of soils to deliver goods and services in a rapidly changing world, and provide scientific guidance on how to support policy on sustainable and multifunctional soil management. This would require a broad study including ecology, agronomy, environmental sciences, socio-economic factors, as current soil degradation is often caused by trade-offs among these aspects.

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