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Sustainability 2015, 7(1), 313-365; doi:10.3390/su7010313

Soil Degradation and Soil Quality in Western Europe: Current Situation and Future Perspectives

1
Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Campus Arrosadia, Pamplona 31006, Spain
2
Institute for Environment and Sustainability–Land Resources, Management Unit, Joint Research Center, Ispra 21027, Italy
3
Neiker-Tecnalia, Departamento de Conservación de Recursos Naturales, Bizkaiko Zientzia eta Teknologia Parkea 812.L, Derio 48160, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Marc A. Rosen and Douglas L. Karlen
Received: 6 November 2014 / Accepted: 19 December 2014 / Published: 31 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enhancing Soil Health to Mitigate Soil Degradation)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [844 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]

Abstract

The extent and causes of chemical, physical and biological degradation of soil, and of soil loss, vary greatly in different countries in Western Europe. The objective of this review paper is to examine these issues and also strategies for soil protection and future perspectives for soil quality evaluation, in light of present legislation aimed at soil protection. Agriculture and forestry are the main causes of many of the above problems, especially physical degradation, erosion and organic matter loss. Land take and soil sealing have increased in recent decades, further enhancing the problems. In agricultural land, conservation farming, organic farming and other soil-friendly practices have been seen to have site-specific effects, depending on the soil characteristics and the particular types of land use and land users. No single soil management strategy is suitable for all regions, soil types and soil uses. Except for soil contamination, specific legislation for soil protection is lacking in Western Europe. The Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection in the European Union has produced valuable information and has encouraged the development of networks and databases. However, soil degradation is addressed only indirectly in environmental policies and through the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, which promotes farming practices that support soil conservation. Despite these efforts, there remains a need for soil monitoring networks and decision-support systems aimed at optimization of soil quality in the region. The pressure on European soils will continue in the future, and a clearly defined regulatory framework is needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil quality; Western Europe; sustainable soil management soil quality; Western Europe; sustainable soil management
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Virto, I.; Imaz, M.J.; Fernández-Ugalde, O.; Gartzia-Bengoetxea, N.; Enrique, A.; Bescansa, P. Soil Degradation and Soil Quality in Western Europe: Current Situation and Future Perspectives. Sustainability 2015, 7, 313-365.

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