PT-1 :: Plans for Soil Conservation

Sub-Topics: Sustainable land management, soil fertility, soil regeneration, carbon soil sequestration, social awareness.
The European landscapes are changing rapidly due to economic and society pressures, and in many regions soil is persistently being disturbed, compacted, buried or ploughed. Land degradation can result in devastating consequences for the provision of ecosystem services (MEA, 2005). So this research topic was indicated as a high priority question, not only for land-users and managers but also for general human well-being, and future research should be fund by governments.
Research and development efforts need not be limited only to already degraded land. Protecting soil in less degraded areas from depletion due to erosion, and monitoring the impact of new settlement schemes also need consideration. It will be necessary more local and regional research about adequate sustainable plans, practices and integrated strategies (facing local conditions and specific land-uses), to increase organic matter in soils when climate conditions are so favourable to the mineralization, to regenerate soil as well as to increase the carbon soil sequestration. The newly knowledge can be used in pilot projects with dissemination of the results, (practice demonstration, and then results divulgation. Furthermore, this knowledge is fundamental to support the policy making process and subsequently the process of implementation.
The social awareness is also an important question in this topic, since the main reason why land users permit land degradation process is related to societal perceptions. Low level of public awareness of land degradation, is limiting the adoption of sustainable land management (SLM) principles and practices among stakeholder groups. Creating awareness and building up a sense of stewardship are important steps in the challenge of reducing land degradation. It will permit an effective implementation of the “appropriate” knowledge by the relevant stakeholders. Substantial efforts should be directed toward finding economic sustainable measures providing economics behind and approaches for proper incentives would be fundamental.
Specific research questions (following the conceptual model of INSPIRATION):
• Identify the economic activities and analyze in what proportions the resource soil can be degraded.
Why: This is to understand the main degradation drivers.
Natural Capital:
• Assess key indicators of soil quality (chemical, physical, and biological properties) and carbon sequestration potential.
Why: To better understand state of the soil and the effects and consequences of land management practices.
Land management:
• Define and design sustainable land management approaches to maintain soil fertility and alternatives for soil regeneration, applying some in pilot projects.
Why: To better understand the efficiency of some alternative land-use practices in protecting and restoring the natural capital of soil.
• Improve knowledge about socio-economic and environmental impacts and benefits resulting from different land management strategies;
Why: Improve the social awareness and acceptance among decision-makers for implementing conservation practices on different land-uses.