We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The JRC authored a chapter of the recently published Soil Atlas 2015, which was produced by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), and Le Monde Diplomatique.
The Soil Atlas 2015 is an easy-to-read, informative and well laid out publication that gives clear facts and figures on the global significance and state of land, soil and agriculture, and proposes solutions for the protection of soil resources. It describes the vital uses of and problems faced by soil, and throws up some very interesting and tangible statistics. For example, about 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil is lost globally every year through misuse. The average European uses about six times the amount of land available to the average Bangladeshi to meet his/her food consumption. With about 60% of the land used to meet European demand being located outside the EU, Europe the continent that is most dependent on land beyond its borders to sustain its lifestyle, its agricultural industry and its hunger for energy.
The JRC contributed the chapter on ‘Urbanization’, which describes the increasing trend of the growing world population to live in bigger cities, and the associated social, economic and environmental challenges this brings. Globally, urbanisation causes the loss of two hectares of soil per minute. Covering the ground with concreate and asphalt seals the soil so that it cannot be used to produce food, or absorb rainwater and carbon, and wrecks the soil biodiversity. As a solution, the authors advocate the design of greener cities which could help reduce the amount of soil lost and make way for open landscapes and gardens, leading to a better use of available land and a smaller ecological footprint.
The Soil Atlas 2015 is published to help further the goal of the United Nation’s 2015 International Year of Soils, which is to raise awareness of the importance of soil resources, and to show how we can achieve more effective soil protection. It calls for global responses to developing a just and sustainable land and soil policy that promotes sustainable and equitable production methods. Consumers can make a contribution by considering soil protection in their day-to-day purchases.