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Quotation: Helming, K.. and Glaesner N. (2013): Introduction to the environmental Impact Area Soil Quality and Resources:

Soil is a vital and largely non-renewable resource. All vegetation is dependent on soil for the supply of nutrients and water and for root fixation. Soil is a storehouse of minerals, organic matter, water and energy. It is a water filter, a transformer of gases and energy and a gene pool for a huge variety of organisms. Over 320 major soil types have been identified in Europe. Each soil type features distinct chemical, biological and physical properties. Soil formation is a longstanding process that takes 10000 years or more. Loss of soils is thus hard to compensate and imposes great costs, while contamination and degradation can lead to irreversible loss.
Soils have come under increasing pressure from different causes. Erosion through wind and water is one problem, desertification is apparent in the Mediterranean Member States of the EU. Sealing for housing and infrastructure leads to a loss of all soil functions; compaction, salinisation, acidification and contamination (e.g. through all kinds of chemicals, wastes, wastewater, as well as nuclear waste) lead to degradation and to a decline of organic matter including a loss of carbon sequestration capacity. It is estimated that 16 percent of the European Land Area are affected by land degradation. All this has consequences on ecosystem services, on the production of food as well as other economic developments. But for all its importance, soil protection has not been the subject of comprehensive EU action so far and the range of adopted policy measures is rather small.

This impact area is further specified by the taxonomy terms: Soil Quality and Availability of Soil.

The EU adopted “Europe 2020” in June 2010. This strategy for sustainable growth and job emphasizes the need to increase competiveness by stimulating innovation and green growth. Sustainable growth will be supported by a flagship initiative for a resource efficient Europe that emphasizes the decoupling of economic growth from resource and energy use by reducing the resource intensity of what we use and consume.
For more information on the treaty provisions and relevant policies adopted by the community, please refer
This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.

Legal basis for the Commission to act

Several directives have been proposed or already adopted that address soil protection aspects such as the daughter directive under the air quality framework directive (heavy metals and PAH), the Directive on mining waste or the revised sewage sludge directive (reduction in maximum permitted levels of contaminants in sludge), the water framework directive, the habitats directive.

Web Resources

European Commission DG Environment on Soils
Summaries of EU legislation on soil protection   
EEA on soil
European Commission JRC Sustainable Agriculture and Soil Conservation Project



Soil Quality

Availability of Soil

Publications and applications

Titel Type of practice Updated date
Estimation of the impact of fertilisation rate on nitrate leaching in Finland using a mathematical simulation model Publication 2013-03-26 16:59
A framework for monitoring landscape functions: The Saxon Academy Landscape Monitoring Approach (SALMA), exemplified by soil investigations in the Kleine Spree floodplain (Saxony, Germany) Publication 2013-04-16 12:52
An economic analysis of the possibility of reducing pesticides in French field crops. Special Section - Governing the Commons: Learning from Field and Laboratory Experiments Publication 2013-05-06 19:22
Assessing Planetary and Regional Nitrogen Boundaries Related to Food Security and Adverse Environmental Impacts Publication 2014-03-04 18:29
Consequences of human modification of the global nitrogen cycle Publication 2014-12-08 17:29
Cross Compliance Assessment Tool (CCAT) Project 2013-02-19 11:25
Efficiency of Agricultural Measures to Reduce Nitrogen Deposition in Natura 2000 Sites Publication 2014-03-04 17:30
Embedding an Ecosystems Approach? The Utilisation of Ecological Knowledges in Decision Making Publication 2014-04-14 15:15
Environmental Change Impacts on the C- and N-cycle of European Forests: A Model Comparison Study Publication 2014-03-04 18:21
European Research for Impact Assessment Tools Publication 2014-04-17 14:41
IA Report: Communication concerning the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 12:08
IA Report: Communication on Winning the Battle against Global Climate Change Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-05 11:40
IA Report: Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-27 13:30
IA Report: General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 "Living well, within the limits of our planet" (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:26
IA report: Mid-term review on the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 22:29
IA Report: Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:31
IA Report: Renewable Energy Road Map Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 20:22
IA Report: Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-05 11:46
Impact Assessment of Land Use Policies Publication 2014-04-09 21:11
Impact assessment tools applied to impact assessment of EU policies in agriculture and environment. Publication 2014-04-14 15:49
Mainstreaming ecosystem services into EU policy Publication 2014-04-14 15:45
Screening decisions concerning the likely impacts of plans and projects on Natura 2000 sites Publication 2013-12-17 08:21
Short and long-term impacts of nitrogen deposition on carbon sequestration by forest ecosystems Publication 2014-12-08 17:11
Soil Degradation, Farming Practices, Institutions and Policy Responses: An Analytical Framework Publication 2014-08-25 17:33
Spatio-temporal Trends of Nitrogen Deposition and Climate Effects on Sphagnum Productivity in European Peatlands Publication 2014-06-18 18:15
The challenge of embedding an ecosystem services approach: patterns of knowledge utilisation in public policy appraisal. Publication 2014-04-14 15:21
The Policy-Relevancy of Impact Assessment Tools: Evaluating Nine Years of European Research Funding Publication 2014-07-09 16:32
Using the nutrient transfer continuum concept to evaluate the European Union Nitrates Directive National Action Programme Publication 2013-04-19 21:26

Content for this term

Title Type Updated date
BIOME-BGC-ZALF Model 2013-11-26 08:29
E3ME Model 2014-04-23 15:36
Farm System Simulator(Part of SEAMLESS) Model 2013-11-26 08:29
Glaesner, Nadia Expert 2014-03-26 13:33
Integrated Nitrogen Tool across Europe for Greenhouse gases and Ammonia Targeted to Operational Responses Model 2013-11-26 08:29
LINTUL4 crop growth simulation model Model 2013-11-26 08:29
Nendel, Claas Expert 2013-01-15 19:37
Peterson, Kaja Expert 2014-03-05 09:38
Reidsma, Pytrik Expert 2014-04-08 17:04
Soil Quality or Resources Impact Area 2014-01-22 16:15