Soil Protection Working Group

Chair: Austria

Healthy soils are key to e.g. mitigating to climate change, preserving biodiversity and achieving food security. However, vast quantities of healthy soils are lost every day. This loss is not only caused by natural hazards but largely by human soil consumption. This is particularly crucial in the Alps, where the availability of the resource soil is especially limited.

Thus the Contracting Parties of the Alpine Convention committed to the goal regarding soil protection “reduce quantitative and qualitative soil damage, in particular by applying agricultural and forestry methods which do not harm the soil, through minimum interference with soil and land, control of erosion and the restriction of soil sealing” (Alpine Convention Art. 2 (d)). In the Soil Conservation Protocol of the Alpine Convention the Contracting Parties agreed upon more details for the implementation of the topic.

The XV Alpine Conference noted that an enhanced cooperation of the Parties in the field of soil protection is required due to the increased pressure on the use of soils in the Alpine region and the increased risk, e.g. by climate change. Thus, the Soil Protection Working Group was established in 2019. The Working Group contributes to the protection and improvement of the condition of Alpine soils, with special emphasis on climate protection and adaptation to climate change. In doing so, the Working Group is oriented towards site-appropriate and sustainable soil management, economical use of soil and avoidance of soil degradation or soil pollution. Building on the results of the first working phase of the Working Group, the long-term activities regarding harmonised databases and permanent monitoring areas are continued and specified, exchange with relevant networks and awareness raising on soil protection are intensified. Furthermore, a long-term action plan for the implementation of provisions and declarations on soil protection in the specific context of the Alpine region will be developed, which also pays attention to the interaction of qualitative and quantitative aspects of soil protection as well as the effects of climate change.

Contact: 
Christian Steiner, Lower Austrian Agricultural District Authority
Christian.Steiner@noel.gv.at

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