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.
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.
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 – 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…
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...