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Environmental Assessment of Soil for Monitoring

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Monitoring for better soil protection

An EU-funded project has put the systems in place for better monitoring and protection of Europe’s soil. The networks and methods it developed are in accordance with the Soil Framework Directive for address relevant problems.

Climate Change and Environment

The aim of the 'Environmental assessment of soil for monitoring' (Envasso) project was to develop a monitoring system and framework to protect soil throughout the EU. Indicators were selected and used to provide information about evolving threats to the soil environment. These included soil erosion, contamination, salinisation and desertification, all of which can lead to a loss of biodiversity. Project partners established a monitoring network that covered a range of soil types and land uses and incorporated existing networks, together with additional sites. Researchers also developed a prototype data management system and tested alternative procedures for estimating indicators that covered a range of areas. A manual was created as a reference for future soil monitoring. A two-tier approach was recommended for the indicators, the first of which involved a network based on easily identified indicators. The second tier was based on sites that required more intensive sampling to describe soil processes. Results indicated that the number of existing sampling sites was sufficient for monitoring purposes across the EU with only a relatively limited number of new sites required. Most threats to soil resources were successfully monitored. However, project partners proposed that new techniques were needed for assessing carbon stocks in peat soils and erosion from wind and tillage. Soil is a vital resource and must be conserved. Thanks to the Envasso project and the Framework Directive Europe's soil environment and the life that it supports is now better protected.

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