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European soil bureau


Specific Objectives

Specific Objectives in 2002:

Following the JRC internal audit, the approval of the 6th Environmental Action Programme (6th EAP) and a stronger commitment of the European Commission towards the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) a re-focussing of the ESB project has taken place.

The project will restrict its activity to the support to DG ENV B.1 and DG DEV B.4:
-More specifically this will mean a strong support to DG ENV in the preparation of the EU Thematic Strategy on Soil, as required by the 6th EAP.
This will imply the further development of the European Soil Information System as the source of policy-relevant soil information for the European Commission.
The project will also support the establishment of a stakeholder forum and the on-going activity of the European Soil Forum;
-Additionally, a more structured technical and scientific support will be provided to DG DEV in relation to the EC contribution to the UNCCD.

The European Soil Bureau will continue to operate through a network of European centres of excellence in soil science. The network is coordinated by a steering committee of 7 representative of the network members. It includes an advisory committee of end users of soil information in Europe ("customers"). This ensures close coordination between final customers and network members.

The actual operational activities are performed through ad hoc working groups. The results of these activities converge into the European Soil Information System (EUSIS), designed to be the main source of geo-referenced information on European soils. A new working group is planned, specifically focussing on the development of a European soil-monitoring scheme.
Planned Deliverables

Deliverables 2002:

Version 2 of the European Soil Database.
Digital groundwater and aquifer database;
Integrated version of the European Soil Information System;
New Northern Circumpolar Soil Database;
Soil and Terrain (SOTER) database of Europe to be included into the FAO Global SOTER.

Specific deliverables to DG's:

Pan-European Soil Erosion Risk Assessment;
Feasibility study on the development of a European Soil Monitoring Network;
Ad - hoc support to for the development of the EU Thematic Strategy on Soil.

-Contribute to the programming and implementation of EC activities in relation to the UNCCD to mainstream the Convention provisions into EC development policy;
-Participate to Conference of Parties, Committee on science and technology, ad hoc panels, ad hoc working groups and facilitation committee of the GM in the field;
-Support the co-ordination of EC Directorates concerned with UNCCD activities and contribute to the European institutional dialogue in this field;
-Prepare information briefings for the European parliament and participate in the Council meetings to prepare and discuss EC positions and strategies;
-Organise member States experts group meetings on technical and scientific issues;
-Improve and systematise a strongest daily collaboration with the UNCCD secretariat, Global mechanism, CST, international and national scientific institutions and NGO's active in the desertification and related areas.

As a result of the research:

Presentation of the scientific results of the development of the European Soil Information System at 17th World Congress of Soil Science.

Summary of 2001 Deliverables: 31/12/2001
-Re-organisation of the European Soil Bureau Network
-Preliminary version of the European Soil Database version 2
-Preliminary version of the Northern Circumpolar Soil Database;
-Support to the development of the EU Sustainable development strategy (workshop in Uppsala April 2001);
-Support to the preparation of the EC Communication on soil;
-Development of new pedotransfer rules for the assessment of soil erosion risk;
-New soil erosion risk assessment for Europe
1:250,000 scale soil geographical database of Italy;
1:50,000 scale soil geographical database of the Region Puglia;
1:250,000-scale soil geographical database of the Odra basin;L1:250,000-scale soil geographical database of the Dutch portion of the Meuse basin;
1:250,000-scale soil geographical database of Cyprus;
1:250,000-scale soil geographical database of Lebanon.

Output Indicators and Impact


Reports and cartographic outputs delivered to customer DG's;
Meetings of working groups and network members organised;
Countries included into the European Soil Information System;
Parameters available within the European Soil Information System.


Development of a EU Thematic strategy on soil;
Improvement of the scientific base of EC support of the UNCCD.
Summary of the project

The main objective is to provide harmonised and coherent information on European soils to policy-makers and other users. This addresses both the current status and the indicators of future changes in soil quality. The geographic area covered by this activity corresponds to the European Union, the candidate new Member States and other areas of interest to European Union policies.
Within this overall objective is the aim to establish a coherent European Soil Information System (EUSIS) collecting the available geo-referenced soil data in a harmonized format.


Soil is a multifunctional environmental compartment:
-Eco-systemic regulation (retention, filtering, transformation);
-Functions for social and economic activities (agriculture, forestry, infrastructure, housing, mining);
-Archival function of soils containing records of natural and human history.

Therefore different policy drivers are relevant to this project:
-The 6th Environmental Action Plan (EAP) (DG ENVIRONMENT) calling upon a new European strategy on soils and soil protection;
-The Common Agricultural Policy (DG AGRICULTURE), particularly for the implementation of the existing (Regulation 2078/92, Regulation
2080/92) and the forthcoming agri-environmental policy, to be further strengthened through the CAP reform under AGENDA 2000;
-The forthcoming GATT (DG AGRICULTURE, DG EXTERNAL RELATIONS) negotiation round and the need for appropriate soil indicators for agricultural production;
-The Kyoto protocol (DG ENVIRONMENT) identifying soil as one of the major sinks for greenhouse gases;
-The Water Policy (DG ENVIRONMENT), particularly for the correct implementation of the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) and the forthcoming Water Framework Directive;
-The Waste management policy (DG ENVIRONMENT) through the relevant soil data needed for the revision of the existing Sewage Sludge Directive (86/278/EEC);
-The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (DG ENVIRONMENT) procedure as described in Council Directive 85/337/EEC as amended by Council Directive 87/11/EC;
-The newly established European Soil Forum (DG ENVIRONMENT);
-The European Environment Agency (EEA) established under Council Regulation No. 1210/90;
-The European Spatial Development Perspective (DG REGIONAL POLICY);
-Other Internationally binding agreements (DG EXTERNAL RELATIONS, DG DEVELOPMENT, DG ENVIRONMENT), like the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Agenda 21 with Chapter 10 focusing on soils, the European Soil Charter (1972) and Recommendation R
8 (1992) of the Council of Europe, the recent work on Public Policies for the Protection of Soil Resources by the OECD (1994), the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), the World Soil Charter (1981), the World Charter for Nature (1982), the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), the Alpine Convention and its protocol on soil protection (Bled, 20/10/98), and the Convention to Combat Desertification (1994).

Call for proposal

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Institute for Environment and Sustainability
EU contribution
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Total cost
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