EU, EEA Reports Call for Addressing Soil Degradation

EU13 February 2012: The European Commission and the European Energy Agency (EEA) have released two reports on soil degradation, titled "Implementation of the Soil Thematic Strategy and Ongoing Activities" and "The State of Soil in Europe," which underscore threats to soil and actions taken by the EU to address those challenges.

The report on the state of the soil addresses the state and trends, soil functions and threats to soil, the impacts of soil degradation, the outlook for soils by 2020, and the European response to soil protection. Threats indentified in the report include: non-sustainable uses of the land; declining soil organic carbon; erosion; compaction; soil sealing; salinization; acidification; declining soil biodiversity; landslides; and soil contamination. The report highlights the soil protection roles of programmes such as the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the EU Forest Action Plan (FAP) and the Soil Thematic Strategy.

The state of the soil report also highlights soil as a massive carbon sink, which, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stores "7% of the total global carbon budget" in the EU. The report stresses that climate change itself could increase emissions from soil sources, including through melting of permafrost affected peatlands and changes in vegetation.

The report on the implementation of the soil thematic strategy underscores that soil degradation continues both globally and in the EU, and defines the main challenges as: land use; preservation of soil organic matter; and more efficient use of resources. The ongoing strategies to address the challenges include: awareness raising; research; monitoring; legislation; and international cooperation. [Publication: EC Report on The Implementation of the Soil Thematic Strategy and Ongoing Activities] [Publication: State of the Soil Report] [EEA Press Release] [EU Press Release]