iSQAPER: Joining the dots - soil health, agriculture and climate

If caring for the planet starts from the ground, as the FAO states today (World Soils Day, 2017), then caring for the planet starts with farmers, foresters and all others who manage and use the EU’s soils. It follows that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as a major driver of the decisions made by Europe’s 12 million farmers, is critical to securing responsible, long term management of our soils and related ecosystem services.  

For soils there is no static state or fixed end point, their quality and health requires ongoing, long term, coordinated management to protect, improve and retain remaining assets and improve those soils that have been degraded. The goal must be to maximise opportunities and the resilience (economic and environmental) of land for farmers and society now and into the future.

The CAP does provide the means to influence the positive management of the EU’s soils. For example, it provides some protection to soils through cross-compliance requirements and support for active soil management via Pillar 1 greening measures and Rural Development Programmes. However, in the absence of coordinating principles around soil needs, prioritisation of soil actions varies considerably across Member States. Given the importance of the CAP for the protection of Europe’s rural soil’s IEEP has launched a new briefing explaining how the CAP addresses soil threats and functions, the instruments and choices available to Member States. This briefing is intended as the first in a series explaining policy instruments available and the opportunities for soil protection as part of the iSQAPER research project.

For more information on IEEP’s work on soils, contact Catherine Bowyer.

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