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Availability of soil


Loss of available soil occurs through changes in land use and might at worst cause the complete loss of all natural soil functions. As global population continues to grow, sustainable land use planning is of vital importance to reduce the loss of available soil as far as possible. Europe is (together with parts of Asia) the most densely populated continent in the world, and human land use often goes hand in hand with sealing of former available soil or even its contamination.
Soil decontamination can be accomplished through a wide range of different methods, such as through using special soil decontamination plants or powders, which get injected into the contaminated soil on-site. One example is the steel powder purification method where volatile organic compounds are dispersed in safe substances at the site. Other variants are soil washing, soil cleaning, sediment treatment and f.e. soil and groundwater remediation. In summary it can be said that soil decontamination is oftentimes possible, at least to a certain degree, but is always very expensive and quite complicated.
This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.

Guiding Question

Does it lead to loss of available soil (e.g. through building or construction works) or increase the amount of usable soil (e.g. through land decontamination)?

Relevant policies

Europe 2020
The Sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community 2002-2012
For detailed information on legislations, please enter


Web Resources

Further sources of data

EEA Fast Track Service Precursor on Land Monitoring – Degree of Soil Sealing
JRC Inspire Directive for spatial information regarding environmental impacts
Land monitoring through earth observation data by GMES
European Forum for Geostatistics
Geographic information system of the European Commission (GISCO)
Land Use and Land Cover Area frame Survey LUCAS (Metadata)
Corine land cover data
Monitoring Agricultural Resources (MARS) Unit Mission by the Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Further sources of information

European Environment Agency on soil
EEA Report: Soil – SOER 2010 thematic assessment
EEA: Soil - The forgotten resource
EEA: Urban soil sealing in Europe
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Critical loads and dynamic modelling (CLDM)
DG Environment

Eurostat Indicators

There are no Eurostat Structural Indicators related to this key question.

Other Official Indicators

Eurostat Agri-environmental indicators (AEIs) track the integration of environmental concerns into the Common Agricultural Policy 8CAP) at EU, national and regional levels
The European Environment Agency provides some indicators which can be used to assess the impact on soils:

  • Progress in management of contaminated sites
  • Emissions of organic matter

Content for this term

Title Type Updated date
Availability of Soil Impact Area 2013-05-03 13:30
Glaesner, Nadia Expert 2014-03-26 13:33