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

1
Directorate, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg 15374, Germany
2
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 40, Frederiksberg 1871, Denmark
3
Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), P.O. Box 47, Wageningen 6700 AA, The Netherlands
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2014, 6(12), 9538-9563; https://doi.org/10.3390/su6129538
Received: 30 October 2014 / Revised: 8 December 2014 / Accepted: 12 December 2014 / Published: 22 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enhancing Soil Health to Mitigate Soil Degradation)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: European Union; soil policy; soil degradation; soil conservation; soil threats; soil functions; grand societal challenges; DPSIR European Union; soil policy; soil degradation; soil conservation; soil threats; soil functions; grand societal challenges; DPSIR
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Glæsner, N.; Helming, K.; De Vries, W. Do Current European Policies Prevent Soil Threats and Support Soil Functions? Sustainability 2014, 6, 9538-9563.

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