The European Union has presented a harmonised definition of soil health to put in place a comprehensive and coherent monitoring framework and to lay down rules on sustainable soil management and remediation of contaminated sites.
The proposal is part of a package of several legislative initiatives entitled “Sustainable Use of Natural Resources”.
It is estimated that the effects of erosion and contaminated sites, and a share of over 60% of unhealthy soils, are estimated to cost the EU more than EUR 50 billion annually.
In order to restore EU soils to good status in line with the zero pollution target by 2050, the EU Commission is proposing a harmonised definition of soil health. It also wants to introduce a “comprehensive and coherent monitoring framework” and promote sustainable soil management and the remediation of contaminated sites.
According to DNR (2023), several sources of soil data are to be brought together for this purpose:
• Combined land use/cover area sampling survey (LUCAS) data with Copernicus satellite data, and
• Data from public and private sources.
• In addition, the soil data is expected to improve the understanding of trends such as droughts, water retention and erosion.
From the point of view of the Brussels-based authority, the Soil Monitoring Law aims to help support innovation and technological and organisational solutions to improve soil fertility and yields while reducing water and nutrient consumption.
The EU Soil Strategy for 2030 thus provides the framework and concrete steps for protecting and restoring soils and ensuring their sustainable use. The Monitoring Act was proposed to ensure a level playing field and a high level of environmental and climate protection.
It is one of the key targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and will contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal.