Publications

Do Current European Policies Prevent Soil Threats and Support Soil Functions?

Glaesner, N.; Helming, K.; Vries, W. de

Summary

There is currently no legislation at the European level that focuses exclusively on soil conservation. A cross-policy analysis was carried out to identify gaps and overlaps in existing EU legislation that is related to soil threats and functions. We found that three soil threats, namely compaction, salinization and soil sealing, were not addressed in any of the 19 legislative policies that were analyzed. Other soil threats, such as erosion, decline in organic matter, loss of biodiversity and contamination, were covered in existing legislation, but only a few directives provided targets for reducing the soil threats. Existing legislation addresses the reduction of the seven soil functions that were analyzed, but there are very few directives for improving soil functions. Because soil degradation is ongoing in Europe, it raises the question whether existing legislation is sufficient for maintaining soil resources. Addressing soil functions individually in various directives fails to account for the multifunctionality of soil. This paper suggests that a European Soil Framework Directive would increase the effectiveness of conserving soil functions in the EU.