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News and Information

Land Conference on 19 June 2014 in Brussels

The European Commission hosted a conference on 'Land as a resource' in Brussels on 19 June 2014, with the objective of highlighting the importance of good land management to address European and global challenges, particularly in view of an increasing world population. It also tackled the shortcomings of the current European land use model, including conflicting policy drivers. More details....

Life and SoilNew publication – "LIFE and Soil protection"  

With issues such as erosion, soil sealing, carbon capture and contaminated land of growing public concern and policy focus, this LIFE Focus publication takes a timely look at LIFE and Soil protection.

Despite soil as such has not been a core theme of LIFE, the program has funded many soil-related pro­jects since its launch in 1992, and there has been an increasing focus on soil protection since the publication of the Commission’s Soil Thematic Strategy in 2006. The 68 page brochure includes an overview of EU soil policy, analysis of LIFE’s contribution to its implementation and interviews that link soil science to policy-making to practical action. It also addresses in detail the impact of LIFE actions relating to all the key issues around soil sustainability, including: land take and soil sealing; soil biodiversity; carbon capture; soil monitoring; soil and water protection; sustainable agriculture; and land contamination.

The publication thus provides an opportunity to highlight and assess the LIFE programme's contribution to soil protection to date, including proposals for ways in which project outcomes may be better channelled and have an even greater impact in future. To order a printed copy please visit the ordering publications section of the LIFE website.

LIFE (“The Financial Instrument for the Environment”) is a programme launched by the European Commission and coordinated by the Environment Directorate-General. A number of LIFE publications is available here.

Search for experts participating in Focus Groups of the European Innovation Partnership on "Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability"

There has been a new call for expression of interest to participate in focus groups on specific agricultural topics to facilitate innovative actions in the field and better connect science. Of special interest to the soil community would be the topic ‘Soil organic matter content: Mediterranean region’.

A focus group consists of up to 20 experts: farmers, representatives from industries (where appropriate), consumers (where appropriate), scientists, other stakeholders (e.g. NGOs), etc. and will last for up to 18 months. Nominations will be done by the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission on the basis of the qualification of applicants.

Candidates need to complete the on-line application form and submit it by 6 October 2013.

Science for Environment Policy In-Depth Report on 'Soil Contamination: Impacts on Human Health'

Researchers are making good progress with developing our understanding of many soil-related issues, such as soil sealing, erosion and contamination, but the impacts of soil contamination on human health are not as well documented. This In-depth Report aims to begin filling this gap in information for decision makers, with a particular focus on offering explanations of the scientific issues around how soils behave, details of common contaminants in our soils, and what we know about the potential risks to health from soil contamination.

Primarily, it focuses on soil contaminants from human activity, for example, from industrial processes, mining, household/business waste, human and animal pharmaceuticals and provides an overview of current research. It also presents case studies concerning heavy metals and synthetic organic chemicals. Biological contaminants (e.g. pathogens, such as tetanus, and parasites, such as hookworm), which are also contained in soil and which cause many well-documented impacts on human health are not covered in this report.

This Report is written and edited by the Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol and is part a series of special reports from the "Science for Environment Policy" news alert service.

To read the full In-depth Report "Soil Contamination: Impacts on Human Health", please click here.

Funding opportunity for soil projects under LIFE+ in 2013

The seventh call for proposals under the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+) Regulation was published in the Official Journal on 19th February 2013. The deadline for applicants to submit validated proposals to Member State authorities is 25th June 2013. Co-financing of projects is possible under three themes: Nature and Biodiversity, Environment Policy and Governance and Information and Communication.

Under the Environment Policy & Governance component and for the policy area 'Soil', the Commission invites projects with the following principal objective: to protect and ensure the sustainable use of soil by preserving soil functions, preventing threats to soil, mitigating their effects and restoring degraded soils. Additionally, soil related funding may be possible under the objective for the ‘Urban environment’: to contribute to improving the environmental performance of Europe's urban areas.

Under the Information and Communication component, the Commission invites communication actions and awareness raising campaigns to, inter alia, increase the awareness and knowledge about the importance of soil and soil biodiversity and its many ecological functions, and sustainable land use.

More information, relevant documents and the application packages are available here.

Soil Sealing Guidelines

Soil sealing – the covering of the ground by an impermeable material – is one of the main causes of soil degradation in the EU. Soil sealing often affects fertile agricultural land, puts biodiversity at risk, increases the risk of flooding and water scarcity and contributes to global warming. Guidelines on best practice to limit, mitigate or compensate soil sealing were made public by the European Commission on 12th April 2012. These guidelines collect examples of policies, legislation, funding schemes, local planning tools, information campaigns and many other best practices implemented throughout the EU. They are mainly addressed to competent authorities in Member States (at national, regional and local levels), professionals dealing with land planning and soil management, and stakeholders in general, but it may also be of interest to individual citizens. More information

Public consultation on 7th EAP

A public consultations has been launched on the 7th Environment Action Programme (7EAP), 2012-2020, which will run until 1st June 2012. Environment Action Programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early seventies. During this period, environment legislation was consolidated and completed to cover almost all environmental media, with the exception of soil. Against this background, the Commission is considering how a 7th Environment Action Programme could best provide added value in the rapidly evolving environment policy context. The purpose of this consultation is to collect the views of all stakeholders, at EU and national level, and the public at large on the environment policy priorities up to 2020. Informed opinions are sought on the priority areas to be addressed and on the most effective tools for the EU to employ in addressing the challenges described in the consultation document. Comments are invited from citizens, organisations and public authorities. More information...

Public consultation on the Water Blueprint

A public consultations has been launched on policy options for the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Waters (Water Blueprint), which will run until 7th June 2012. This is an online consultation providing an opportunity for consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, on the most appropriate actions to improve water management in Europe and to safeguard our water resources. More information...