New atlas highlights the value of Europe's soil biodiversity and reveals how it is under threat
The European Commission's own research body, the Joint Research Centre, publishes today, for the first time, an indicator-based map of potential threats to soil biodiversity, in order to guide decision-makers in protecting this crucial resource. The biodiversity within our soils plays a vital role in agriculture and in the water and carbon cycle. The atlas highlights areas within Europe where soil biodiversity is most at risk of decline relative to the current situation – notably parts of the UK, the Benelux countries and Northern France, although there are areas of high risk also in several other Member States. It provides a comprehensive source of information for researchers, policy makers and teachers. It will be launched at the conference 'Soil, Climate Change and Biodiversity – Where do we stand?' (Brussels, 23 & 24 September 2010).
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Environment, said: "Soil is essential to the biodiversity which makes life on earth possible and keeps our economies sustainable. Soil degradation threatens our access to food, clean air and water, as well as to many crucial raw materials. This atlas is a major European contribution to the UN's International Year of Biodiversity 2010. It will raise awareness about the need for the Soil Framework Directive the Commission first proposed in 2006 and help prevent further soil degradation and repair the damage already done. Unless we tackle this problem soon and in a coordinated manner, it will cost a lot more to put it right."