Soils are a hugely important part of our natural capital and deliver a wide range of ecosystem services. Therefore, soil is crucial both for nature and humanity. Currently, EU soils are in a poor ecological state: between 60-70% are not in a healthy state (based on the definition applied in the context of the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’, under the EU Horizon Europe research programme). This is a result of unstainable use and poor management of soils. Besides, the poor ecological state of EU soil is also in part due to the lack of an EU wide soil policy to protect and restore soil, that may limit Europe’s ability to achieve future objectives in relation to sustainability and environmental protection.

EU Soil Strategy:

in November 2021, the European Commission adopted the Communication on the EU Soil Strategy for 2030: ‘Reaping the benefits of healthy soils for people, food, nature and climate’36 (referred to from hereon as the ‘EU Soil Strategy’). The strategy announced measures for sustainable soil use, the avoidance of land sealing, a target to halve the drainage of peatlands, restoration of contaminated sites and tighter monitoring and reporting obligations for EU countries. The goal is that by 2050 all EU soil ecosystems are in healthy condition and thus more resilient and that protection, sustainable use and restoration of soils has become the norm. For more information about EU Soil Strategy please check:

The need for this study:

The EU Soil Strategy sets out a range of crucial actions and activities which need to be taken to successfully deliver its vision of achieving good soil health by 2050. However, if no additional action is taken, there is a high risk that the EU will fail its Green Deal and international objectives. In the meantime, land and soil continue to be subject to severe degradation in the EU. The European Environment Agency also concluded the current lack of a comprehensive and coherent policy framework across the EU to protect land and soil as a key gap that reduces the effectiveness of current incentives and measures. The key objective of this study is to support DG Environment in the successful and timely delivery of a number of the actions and activities contained in the Soil Strategy.

The role of SLM:

SLM hold extensive expertise around a range of soil health issues, including pollution with micro and non-plastics. Through previous works, SLM have formed extensive networks of important stakeholders related to soil health, which will be deployed in this project.