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Re: [PermacultureUK] - EU Strategy for Soil Protection

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  • Richard Morris
    ... A rather interesting document from the European Commission on problems with soil. Towards a thematic strategy for Soil Protection Short preicie Soil is
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 24, 2002
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      Jamie Saunders wrote:
      > http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/pdf/2002/com2002_0179en01.pdf

      A rather interesting document from the European Commission
      on problems with soil.

      Towards a thematic strategy for Soil Protection

      Short preicie

      "Soil is essentially a non­renewable resource with potentially rapid
      degradation rates and extremely slow formation and regeneration
      processes. The amount of land and thus soil available for food
      production per person is limited. Where degradation of soil occurs,
      the overall potential to perform its functions is reduced. Therefore
      prevention, precaution and sustainable soil management should be at
      the core of soil protection policies."

      First a set of problems are identified
      Decline in organic matter
      Soil contamination through mining, atmosphere pollution
      farming practices and waste (e.g. sludge)
      Soil compactification
      Soil sealing - building onto of soil
      decline in bio diversity
      "Organic farming has been shown to be very effective preserving and
      enhancing biodiversity. In a two­year study in Austrian soils, beetles
      were 94% more abundant in organic fields than in the conventional ones.
      The number of beetle species was 16% higher. However, it is stressed
      that quantification of soil biodiversity is extremely limited and
      confined to projects of local relevance. "

      Flood and landslides

      Generally good reading and would be good for an A level or
      degree student wanting to write an essay on soil.

      Document then goes on to discuss specific local problems:
      Its basically worse in meditarian where desertification is
      a big problem.

      and whats being done:

      "In the UK, England is developing an overall soil strategy. The
      consultation paper considers several types of pressure on soil and
      lists sustainable responses. It sets out a new set of key soil
      indicators and targets, and addresses the relation between soil
      and land­use planning. "

      Links with other EC policies are established: water, air, land use,
      waste, common agricultural policy, transport, research (several
      research programs looking at soil).

      Then lots of fancy motivational words about whats to be done
      including relavant legislation coming into force:

      "By the end of 2004 a directive on compost and other biowaste will
      be prepared with the aim to control potential contamination and to
      encourage the use of certified compost. "

      "Agri­environmental measures aimed at soil protection range from
      overall farm management systems such as organic farming (including
      maximum stocking rates) and integrated crop management (ICM) to
      specific measures such as no­tillage or conservation practices,
      grassland strips,
      winter covers, use of compost and the maintenance of terraces. Measures
      aiming at a reduced use of pesticides, such as integrated pest
      management (IPM) or promoting balanced rotations can also contribute to
      improve the condition of agricultural soils. "

      Lots of other bits of legislation.

      For future directions monitoring seems to be very important


      "In presenting this Communication on soil protection, the
      Commission is placing soil alongside water and air as environmental
      media to be protected for the future. Soil is both essential to human
      existence and subject to human activities.

      In developing a soil protection strategy the Commission has taken a
      pragmatic approach directed in the first instance towards the adjustment
      of existing policies relevant to soil taking both a preventative
      approach through the development of new environmental legislation and an
      integrational approach for sectoral policies of particular relevance for
      soil. This integrational approach is fully in line with the Cardiff
      process and sustainable development.

      In addition the Commission has established the need to provide a more
      solid base through monitoring for actions in the future. These actions
      will be beneficial not only to soil, but will also contribute to
      reducing water and food contamination by hazardous pollutants and will
      therefore contribute to the limitation of environmental impact on human

      Soil protection has both a national and community­wide dimension and
      requires that Member States implement national and community relevant

      The Commission requests the Council and the European Parliament to
      endorse the approach it has established in this Communication."

      On the whole an interesting read, showing the EC at least knows
      there is a problem. A few useful statistics. A little disappointing
      for those looking for quick legislation. But definitely moving
      in the right direction.

      Happy reading


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