Soil is a fundamental natural resource that influences numerous policy areas. It is not only vital for a healthy environment but also essential to agriculture, and indeed the entire food sector. Without it, Europe’s sustainable bioeconomy will not be able to grow. Being soil aware will also help regenerate formerly polluted sites, creating jobs and growth and helping to ensure that this precious resource – which after all, our planet is named after – is not wasted.
Soil not only makes life on Earth possible – it also helps to fight climate change. Some 70 billion tons of organic carbon – equivalent to almost 50 times the EU’s annual emissions – is kept locked beneath our feet. This is the second biggest reservoir of carbon on the planet, next to the oceans. Just another reason why maintaining healthy soil is so important!
Fixing up degraded areas from the industrialisation legacy provides economic opportunities and a viable business sector, driving research into new clean-up technologies. In fact, Europe’s soil remediation sector has a turnover of €2.5 billion and employs 16 000.
The EU is committed to ensuring that by 2020 land is managed sustainably, soil is adequately protected and the remediation of contaminated sites is well underway. EU-funded projects have helped to find new ways of cleaning up; clever innovations include micro-organisms to treat polluted soil. The EU’s new LIFE programme, which supports environmental action, has an increased focus on soil protection.