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iSQAPER: IEEP’s role in exploring policy instruments and opportunities for soil protection

AUTHORS: Catherine Bowyer – Thorfinn Stainforth

Since 2015, IEEP has taken part in the iSQAPER project that aims to assess soil quality in Europe and China and provide decision-makers with science-based, easy to apply and cost-effective tools to manage soil quality and function.

The goal of this Horizon-funded project has been to provide easy access to information on soil quality combined with recommendations about how agricultural management practices can be used to improve it. The project has brought together multidisciplinary experts on soil data, indicators, monitoring protocols, agricultural management practices, and policy.

Coming to completion in 2020, the project focuses on data combining and creating usable metrics for soil quality measurement based on existing data sets, identifying new opportunities for monitoring and indicator development, and ultimately assessing the opportunities for adopting alternative management practices on agricultural land to promote soil quality.

IEEP has led the workstream on policy analysis, interpreting and disseminating the scientific results of the project for policymakers. Since 2017, we have produced and contributed to several publications as part of iSQAPER, including:

 Good Quality Soils Support Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Rural Development: The iSQAPER Tool Kit – H2020 Research Conclusions for Policy MakersThis paper presents the project’s policy recommendations and ‘toolkit’ to help policymakers, researchers and land managers better monitor and assess soils at local, regional and continental scales.AuthorThorfinn Stainforth, Catherine Bowyer, Luuk Fleskens and Stephen Meredith
Climate and soil policy brief – Better integrating soil into EU climate policyThis briefing by Giulia Bongiorno from Wageningen University & Research explores the role of soil quality indicators in the establishment of management practices that better support multiple ecosystem services.AuthorThorfinn Stainforth and Catherine Bowyer
Assessing soil quality in agro-ecosystems for reversing soil degradation and enhancing soil multifunctionalityThis briefing by Giulia Bongiorno from Wageningen University & Research explores the role of soil quality indicators in the establishment of management practices that better support multiple ecosystem services.AuthorGiulia Bongiorno
Protecting Europe’s soils, protecting Europe’s water bodies?This briefing provides an overview of the links between water and soil policy and looks at how the EU water policy framework could be used to enhance the protection of soils in Europe.AuthorAndrew Farmer
Getting to the roots of sustainable land managementThis briefing seeks to inform EU, national and regional policymakers about how the latest Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform could deliver much-needed improvements in environmental and climate action.Author: Stephen Meredith, CAP and the future of EU agricultureThis video accompanies the briefing by Stephen Meredith and provides an introduction to soils’ role in the environment and how the upcoming Common Agricultural Policy reform could influence soil management in Europe.
Plastic pollution in soilIn line with the “Beat Plastic Pollution” theme of the 2017 World Environment Day, IEEP produced a briefing under the iSQAPER project to shed light on the issue of plastic and microplastic pollution in soils, the sources and implications as well as policies to address the associated challenges.AuthorSusanna Gionfra
Joining the dots: Soil health, agriculture and climateThe first in the series of briefings, this publication looks at the EU’s agricultural policy and its role in soil protection – linking soil to land-use related climate goals.Authors: Catherine Bowyer and Clunie Keenleyside
Inventory of ISQAPER policy relevant data and sources applicable to policy design: the importance of effective data combiningThis briefing looks at the ways that data can be combined to evaluate and monitor soil quality and presents an inventory of policy relevant data and information sources gathered by the project. To provide an accurate picture of a soil’s utility or quality, one data point is not sufficient, one parameter or indicator does not provide a true understanding.Authors: Thorfinn Stainforth, Luuk Fleskens and Catherine Bowyer
Short report on applying the soil quality tool to different policy challenges and settings: SQAPP for policymakersThis paper explores the ways that policymakers can make use of the Soil Quality App developed under the ISQAPER project.Authors: Thorfinn Stainforth, Luuk Fleskens and Stephen Meredith

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