Land and soil

Living on earth

CURRENT STATUS

Land is the solid part of Earth's surface which hosts the majority of human activities; the main and essential component of land is the thin covering over it which we call soil. Although land-based ecosystem services are vital for life on the planet, pressures on land and soil continue increasing: the loss of land and soil functions like food provision, nutrients cycling, hosting biodiversity, climate change regulation might become irreversible. The set policy targets are not achievable at the moment since, at the current pace, the needed improvement is not in sight.

Despite the efforts at national and European level and the increasing availability of monitoring data with high spatial and temporal resolution, soil and land degradation are still critical issues in many parts of Europe.

The assessment of land and soil quality is extremely challenging, since threats and functions depend on and interact with each other at multiple levels. For instance, pressures on land can cause soil erosion with a consequent decline of soil organic matter. These threats are crucial for soil biodiversity but also for the carbon, nutrient and hydrological cycles. The loss of these soil functions ultimately hampers the same provision of land functions.

A specific soil protection legislation is not in place in the EU and, although many other policy instruments exist in EU28, they are mostly not-binding and not all threats are covered. A shift towards sustainable uses of land and soil is urgently needed by means of a wise long-sighted legislation supported by comprehensive assessments of soil and land quality.

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OUR ACTIONS

We contribute to the efforts of the European Environment Agency (EEA) and other initiatives in the monitoring and assessment of land and soil quality through different lines of work.


Development of tourism, landscape fragmentation, and soil organic carbon deficiency spatial indicators for mapping threats to soil and land.

Review and harmonization of existing knowledge at European level on soil threats and their thresholds (Soil Organic Carbon decline and contamination from Heavy Metals).

Integrated assessment of soil functions and land cover changes.

Development and implementation of land and ecosystem accounting including nutrient and water accounts, to support Integrated Natural Capital Accounting (INCA) in the EU.

Land use modelling.

Local implementation of best ecological management and farming practices and crop protection technologies to measure the impact on biodiversity and soil features.

Related projects

Resources

Get in touch

Christoph Schröder

christoph.schroder@uma.es

Based on my MSc in Geography (University of Bonn) I have developed expertise in Geographic Information Systems and land use/cover change analysis from local to global scale with particular interest in the Mediterranean...

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