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The ongoing process of establishing a Soil Monitoring Law in the European Union

14 June 2024
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Maintaining healthy soils is a significant issue within the European Union and worldwide. Soil is the basis for providing food and fulfils numerous other missions to support human life. 

Given soils' general importance, the European Union has started a process to establish a directive on “Soil Monitoring and Resilience” to ensure sustainable management for maintaining or reestablishing the quality of our soils. Discussions on the proposal text have not yet been finalised, so only a proposal is available now. 

The proposal's main pillars define soil districts and units as the primary spatial levels of consideration within the member states. Flexibility is foreseen to determine the extent of these spatial structures. A balance between recognition of the existing data and monitoring systems and reaching a certain level of harmonization is to be achieved. 

The directive defines a set of measurements and methodologies for assessing soil health and triggers values for several soil descriptor variables. The primary threats to be tackled are land sealing, soil erosion, loss of soil organic carbon, soil compaction, salinisation and soil contamination, soil water retention and infiltration reduction, excess nutrient content in soil and loss of soil biodiversity.

The current Belgian presidency declares its aim to obtain a vote for the directive at the Council for the Environment in mid-June 2024.