Over the next two years, the EU Soil Observatory (EUSO) will become a dynamic and inclusive platform that aims to support policymaking by:

  • Providing the Commission Services and the broader soil user community with the soil knowledge and data flows needed to safeguard soils
  • Supporting EU Research & Innovation on soils
  • Raising societal awareness of the value of soils

Healthy soils are at the heart of the Green Deal for Europe

In addition to providing us with food, fibres and fuel, soils play a key role in regulating the Earth’s climate, provide us with clean water, protect us from floods and preserve our cultural heritage.

A unique habitat in its own right, life within soils underpins all terrestrial ecosystems and is a potential source of new medicines.

However, soils are being degraded by unsustainable land use, together with growing population pressure, changes in consumption patterns and increasingly extreme weather events.

The recent proposal by the European Commission for a Soil Health and Food Mission – ‘Caring for soil is caring for life’ – has set the ambitious challenge of ensuring that, by 2030, 75% of EU soils are healthy for food, people, nature and climate.

It is no surprise that soil is the glue that binds the different strategies of the Green Deal.

Sustainable soil management

Sustainable soil management and the restoration of degraded land is critical if biodiversity protection targets are to be achieved.

Efficient nutrient management, including carbon sequestration to offset climate change, are key measures in the Common Agricultural Policy, while reducing pesticide residue levels are aspirations under both the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Zero Pollution Action Plan. Reduced soil sealing and organic waste cycles are both targets of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Key tasks

The EU Soil Observatory has been established to support these strategies by:

  • Collecting high-resolution, harmonised and quality-assured soil information (showing status and trends) to track and assess progress by the EU in the sustainable management of soils and restoration of degraded soils;
  • Supporting the outcomes of targeted research;
  • Fostering networking, cooperation and partnerships among users of soil data and information;
  • Underpinning policy development through meaningful indicators and assessments.

As the EUSO is in its infancy, its content is expected to change and grow quickly over the coming months.

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