EU Science Hub

Earth Day marks 25th anniversary

Collage of images representing soil Soil is a mixture of mineral particles, organic matter, water, air and living organisms that together is considered to be the “skin of the earth”.
©EU, 2015
Apr 22 2015

The Earth Day, celebrated on 22 April since 1970, is marked around the globe with initiatives and events on environmental protection. This week the JRC presents its work on soil, which is critical to life on Earth. Soil protection and sustainable land management are essential for preserving the environment and ensure water, food and energy for a growing population.

At the Global Soil Week, held from 19 to 23 April in Berlin, JRC scientists present tools and approaches for collecting and making available soil and land data which will feed into policies ensuring healthy soil for future generations. So far, the JRC has released a series of soil atlases, including maps and data on biodiversity and quality of soil on Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Northern Circumpolar region. The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas is in preparation for end 2015.

Besides the work behind the production of the atlases, JRC scientists focus on the threats to soil, such as erosion, nutrient mining, compaction of the soil, soil sealing due to growing urbanisation, salinisation, landslides and the reduction of soil organic matter. These types of pressure threaten global food security.

The JRC uses advanced modelling techniques, indicators and scenario analyses to provide soil information to end-users in relation to the major threats to soil, as identified in the EU’s Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection. It provides estimates of the overall extent and economic impact of soil erosion by water and wind, develops European maps of soil salinisation and compaction, and forecasts crop yields and floods. The JRC also works on the harmonisation of methods to map areas prone to landslides in Europe. In addition, the JRC develops indicators and reference materials to assess soil contamination, for instance from domestic and industrial sewage sludge.