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Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 407;

The Impact of Policy Instruments on Soil Multifunctionality in the European Union

Ecosystem management research group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1c, B2610 Antwerpen, Belgium
Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme, Teagasc, Wexford, Ireland
Soil Biology and Biological Soil Quality, Wageningen University and Research, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Animal and Plant Health (Alpha), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Via Carlo Magno 1A, 43126 Parma, Italy
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Højbakkegård Alle 30, 2630 Taastrup, Denmark
European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Sustainable Resources Directorate, Land Resources Unit, Via E. Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra, Italy
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety—AGES, Department for Soil Health and Plant Nutrition, Spargelfeldstraße 19, A-1220 Wien, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 26 January 2017 / Revised: 1 March 2017 / Accepted: 2 March 2017 / Published: 9 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Agricultural ecosystems provide a range of benefits that are vital to human well-being. These benefits are dependent on several soil functions that are affected in different ways by legislation from the European Union, national, and regional levels. We evaluated current European Union soil-related legislation and examples of regional legislation with regard to direct and indirect impacts on five soil functions: the production of food, fiber, and fuel; water purification and regulation; carbon sequestration and climate regulation; habitat for biodiversity provisioning; and the recycling of nutrients/agro-chemicals. Our results illustrate the diversity of existing policies and the complex interactions present between different spatial and temporal scales. The impact of most policies, positive or negative, on a soil function is usually not established, but depends on how the policy is implemented by local authorities and the farmers. This makes it difficult to estimate the overall state and trends of the different soil functions in agricultural ecosystems. To implement functional management and sustainable use of the different soil functions in agricultural ecosystems, more knowledge is needed on the policy interactions as well as on the impact of management options on the different soil functions. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil function; European legislation; regional legislation; multifunctionality; soil policy soil function; European legislation; regional legislation; multifunctionality; soil policy

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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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Vrebos, D.; Bampa, F.; Creamer, R.E.; Gardi, C.; Ghaley, B.B.; Jones, A.; Rutgers, M.; Sandén, T.; Staes, J.; Meire, P. The Impact of Policy Instruments on Soil Multifunctionality in the European Union. Sustainability 2017, 9, 407.

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