“The European Union is losing 970 million tonnes of soil per year due to water erosion, an amount equivalent to a one metre-depth loss of soil from an area the size of the city of Berlin or enough to cover an area twice the size of Belgium with one centimetre of soil.” [The new assessment of soil loss by water erosion in Europe Panos Panagosa, Pasquale Borrelli, Jean Poesenc, Cristiano Ballabioa, Emanuele Lugatoa, Katrin Meusburger, Luca Montanarella, Christine Alewell. European Commission Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability]
The latest results of studies on the state of soil on our planet are extremely alarming. We are losing topsoil at a rapid rate, faster than it can be created and restored. The factors that cause this are numerous and complex- broad scale, standardised agricultural practices play a large role, as does the growth of urban sprawl which leads to soil sealing*. The consequences of the degradation and loss of soils are frightening and innumerable because soils are the basis on which all our food systems depend. Not only does soil play a vital role in maintaining a balanced and clean water cycle, but living, healthy soils offer us the potential to hold and store carbon -as organic matter and in living plants, and therefore are a potential solution to contribute to the offsetting of carbon emissions and regulate the current climate crisis we are facing.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world”
The Soil4Life project aims to raise awareness and share good practices regarding this important subject. As part of the project, CCIVS holded a capacity-building event in one of its member’s centres in France. The participants learned about the fascinating, living soil web and how they can restore and regenerate soils in their diverse contexts. The course addressed rural as well as urban issues and took place in a participatory and non-formal learning environment. We aimed to get our hands dirty- making compost, and natural fertilizers, while exploring skills like reading the landscape, sharing ideas, innovations and inspirations drawn from the diverse group of chosen participants. The young people were supported by expert facilitators and a strong logistics team.
During the event, each participant came up with an action plan that they will implement with their local organisations after the training. These can include workcamps, community gardens, local awareness-raising campaigns, “Green the City” movements and similar projects. A Network of Soil Ambassadors was established to share and connect these local actions and forms part of the creation of the Soil4Life Manifest. A first draft of the Soil4Life Manifest was collectively created during the 4 training days, and the final manifest will be delivered in March 2022 to the European Commission and presented during the International Convention to take place in UNESCO, Paris.
The “dirt below our feet” plays a critical part in our interconnected and living planet´s ecosystem. There are many solutions, large and small, and the Soil4Life project aims to promote and support actions that positively contribute to the regeneration and restoration of our environments.
*Soil sealing can be defined as the destruction or covering of soils by buildings, constructions and layers of completely or partly impermeable artificial material (asphalt, concrete, etc.). It is the most intense form of land take and is essentially an irreversible process.