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 http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm
The Sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community 2002-2012 http://ec.europa.eu/environment/newprg/strategies_en.htm
For detailed information on legislations, please enter http://europa.eu/pol/env/index_en.htm



Web Resources

Further sources of data

EEA Fast Track Service Precursor on Land Monitoring – Degree of Soil Sealing http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/eea-fast-track-service-precursor-on-land-monitoring-degree-of-soil-sealing-100m-1
JRC Inspire Directive for spatial information regarding environmental impacts http://inspire.jrc.ec.europa.eu/
Land monitoring through earth observation data by GMES http://www.gmes.info/pages-principales/services/land-monitoring/
European Forum for Geostatistics http://www.efgs.info/
Geographic information system of the European Commission (GISCO) http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/gisco/introduction
Land Use and Land Cover Area frame Survey LUCAS (Metadata) http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_details/metadata?p_product_code=LAN_ESMS
Corine land cover data http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/COR0-landcover
Monitoring Agricultural Resources (MARS) Unit Mission by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) http://mars.jrc.ec.europa.eu/

Further sources of information

European Environment Agency on soil http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/soil
EEA Report: Soil – SOER 2010 thematic assessment http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/europe/soil
EEA: Soil - The forgotten resource http://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/articles/soil
EEA: Urban soil sealing in Europe http://www.eea.europa.eu/articles/urban-soil-sealing-in-europe
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Critical loads and dynamic modelling (CLDM) http://cldm.defra.gov.uk/
DG Environment http://ec.europa.eu/environment/index_en.htm

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 http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/agri_environmental_indicators/introduction
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