FR-5 :: Soil functions and services

Relationships between ecosystems, their functions and derived services are often complexes. Each ecosystem assures several functions and each service merged numerous ecological functions merged from different ecosystems. From theses links arise the close dependency between good health of ecosystems as a whole and the quality and sustainability of ecological services. For France, the issue of water arises mainly through the problematic of the quality of drinking water and sanitation. The problem is worsening background pollution from persistent pollutants and a risk reduction of water volumes actually. Forests are critically important for maintaining vital ecosystem functions and the services required for sustainable development. For example, in France, 3.9 Mha of forest stands present a water loss due to climate change (Mediterranean area) or to low soil water reservoir and particularly exposed to erosion. Only 5 % of the French forest (0.7 Mha) are located in area with an excess of water and are highly productive. Even if the wetland area considered as remarkable are well identified and protected (Natura 2000), common wetland area received less attention. Cumulative effects of small wetland degradation have severe effects in particular with the provision of ecosystemics services. Moreover, composition of the plant community influence physical and chemical soil-root matrix and deep root systems can influence subsurface ecosystem services.
Natural Capital
• Develop an evaluation methodology for soils functions and ecosystem services, with values and suitable indicators, relationship between economy (services produced by the Earth and manufactured by the humans) and ecosystem functioning (agriculture and forest), indicators as a function of the future use of the treated soil.
Why: There is a societal challenge by the consideration of the soil as an heritage vs expected .services.
• Develop knowledge about the interactions of the symbiotic relation between plant and N- fixing microorganisms.
Why: to nitrogen and phosphorus availabilities in soils especially for forest soil.
Land Management
• Need for integrated assessment modeling for the modulation of landscape mosaics to optimize landscape services under various agro-systems.
Why: to help decision-making and find a comprise decision between ecosystemics services (such as biomass production, water production, soil preservation) acceptable by socio-economics actors.
• Develop feasibility studies and remediation strategy for refunctionnalisation of degraded sites (brownfields, polluted soils) for rural, periurban or urban use.
Why: To establish soils vulnerability maps (Geological Information System) coupled to soil use, to consider
Net impact
• Define strong indicators to evaluate and adapt practices for a lower impact on soil fertility, especially for forest soil.
Why: for a better preservation of biodiversity and a higher valorisation of soil functions and associated ecosystemics services.
• Assess the long term impacts of management practices in the different soils and under the various climate conditions that exist in France and link them with long term assessments performed in Europe.
Why: long term effects are often very different from short term ones and the trade-offs between the various functions fulfilled by agricultural soils differ in the long term.
• Develop useful diagnostic tools to evaluate soil potential and soil sensitivity under various pressures (soil depletion and soil compaction,…) and management practices taking into account knowledge on potential reversibility of past and current impacts. A very simple tool can be found here:
Why: Develop an engineering service of forest soils from prevention to feasibility and estimation of the cost and benefits of measures of restoration/remediation operations.
• Need to evaluate management and practices impacts on wetland area in order to reconcile biodiversity, regulation services (water resources, mitigation and clean-up from metallic and organic pollutions, …), production services (in particular of agricultural products) and cultural services (cultural heritage, landscape, leisure activities, …).
Why: need to measure biodiversity erosion taking into account adaptative and evolutionary capacities of biological systems.
• Upgrading biological monitoring of soils during remediation process in a view of future ecosystemic services.
Why: There is a high demand on the future use of the treated soil by the stakeholders.
Among the answers related with important/relevant documents, research agendas, research programmes underpinning these topics, the interviewed NKS cited also National Research Strategy, Generic Call of the French National Agency, White book on Soil from the French National of Scientific Research Centre , Sciences Academy on Soil prospective, thematic book from National Research Agency, pluri-annual intervention program of public land establishment (Nord pas de Calais territory), Chevassus-au-Louis report “economic approach of biodiversity and ecosystem services”.