Soil Protection Working Group

Chair: Austria

Healthy soils are key to 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 is largely driven by human soil consumption. This is particularly crucial in the Alps, where the availability of soil is especially limited. Soil fertility and avoiding degradation are basic preconditions for a high quality of life.

Thus, the Contracting Parties of the Alpine Convention have committed to “reducing 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” (Framework Convention Art. 2, 2d). In the Soil Conservation Protocol of the Alpine Convention, the Contracting Parties agreed on more details for the implementation of the topic.

The XV Alpine Conference noted that the Parties should cooperate more closely in the field of soil protection because of the increased pressure on the use of soils in the Alpine region and the increased risks, for example from climate change. They therefore established the Soil Protection Working Group in 2019.

The Working Group contributes to the protection and improvement of the condition of Alpine soils.  Building on the results of the previous mandates (2019-2020 and 2021-2022), the Working Group should promote activities defined in the “Long-Term Action Plan for the implementation of provisions and declarations on soil protection in the specific context of the Alpine region”. The focus in the current mandate phase is on an economical and prudent use of soil in the Alps, moor protection, comparable soil data, soil literacy, awareness raising, and exchange.

In view of the current crises, such as the climate crisis, the pandemic, and most recently the war in Ukraine, greater self-sufficiency in regionally produced food and fodder, the transition to renewable energy sources, and the continuous land take demand for living, work, tourism, and trade are proceeding at an even faster pace. These developments massively affect the soils of the Alpine region and will intensify different land use interests as well as resulting conflicts.

Christian Steiner, Lower Austrian Agricultural District Authority

​​​​​​Overview of activities, documents and results

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Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 15

Life on land

Goal 2

Zero Hunger

Goal 4

Quality education

Goal 13

Climate action

Goal 15

Life on land

Goal 17

Partnerships for the goals


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