Global Network of National Geoparks

A new EU policy for soil protection

Source :Source:3rd International UNESCO Conference on Geoparks Proceedings Published :July 29, 2008

Soil can be considered a nor-renewable resource, as it takes hundreds of years to produce a few centimeters of soil. The European Commission has proposed a strategy to ensure that Europe’s soils remain healthy and capable of supporting human activities and ecosystems.

Good quality soil is essential to our economic activities as it provides us with food, drinking water, biomass and raw materials - and all our human activities are somehow related to soil. But soil degradation is accelerating across the EU, with negative effects on human health, ecosystems and climate change - and on our economic prosperity and quality of life. To reverse this trend, the Commission’s strategy sets a common EU framework for action to preserve protect and restore soil. Member States must take action to tackle threats such as landslides, contamination, soil erosion, the loss of soil organic matter, compaction, salinisation and sealing wherever they occur, or threaten to occur, on their national territories.

Soil is a prime example of the need to think global and act local. That is why the Commission proposed a common framework at EU level which will set a level playing field and aim at the same level of protection of soils throughout the EU, while leaving Member States ample room to take into account national situations in their implementation. The aim is to ensure that citizens today and in the future benefit from soils that are able to perform a wide range of different functions, providing us with all the services that we need. Soil protection in Europe will require an enormous effort of awareness raising in particular among the general public and the policy makers but also land users. This will imply the active collaboration of all scientific disciplines including in particular, but not only, geoscientists.