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With soil degradation in Europe high on the political agenda, there is a real opportunity for the soil science community to influence the way soils are used in Europe and how they might best be protected in the future. This paper lists the most important aspects of soil degradation in Europe and emphasizes the importance of adopting a spatial approach. Three examples of soil degradation are examined: soil erosion risk assessment in Italy, the susceptibility of subsoils in Europe to compaction and the impoverishment of organic matter in southern Europe. The European Soil Database is identified as the best source of spatial data available at the present time for studying the extent of the degradation and it is clear that soil physical properties provide the key to explaining many of the processes. Computer-based models that employ soil physical properties together with spatial data for predicting soil degradation need better data than currently exist. Whilst these data are being collected, researchers must resort to pedotransfer functions and pedotransfer rules for estimating risks and vulnerabilities. The DPSIR framework is proposed as a simple methodology for transferring the results of research work to the policy-making process. However, implementing this will require a multi-disciplinary approach.

Additional information

Authors: JONES R J A, JRC, European soil Bureau, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: An oral report given at: Sustainable Soil Management for Environmental Protection. Held in: Firenze (IT), 2-7 July 2001
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