Adoption of the Commission proposal for a Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience
The European Commission adopted yesterday a proposal that is strongly linked to water quality and water quantity management in the EU: a proposal for a Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience (Soil Monitoring Law).
Improving soil health is an essential way forward to strengthen disaster prevention and management. Strengthening response capacities on fires, floods, soil erosion and droughts is not sufficient. Managing droughts and water scarcity requires innovative approaches, combining more traditional water and drought risk management responses with a focus on building larger ecosystem resilience.
Healthy soils retain up to 25% of their mass in water, contributing to disaster risk prevention and acting as long-term reservoirs to refill groundwater bodies. The natural capacity of resilient soils, wetlands and forests to store water is higher than what could be achieved through costly new artificial reservoirs. Improved water retention can mitigate floods as well as droughts and make the environment more resilient to landslides and soil erosion. Overall, nature-based solutions for flood prevention, for instance, have high benefit-cost ratios. Healthy soils with a high-water infiltration rate also support the establishment of wildfire-preventing and -resistant vegetation cover.
This proposal for a Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience, when adopted, will put the EU on a pathway to healthy soils by 2050, by gathering data on the health of soils and making it available to farmers and other soil managers. The law also makes sustainable soil management the norm and addresses situations of unacceptable health and environment risks due to soil contamination. The proposal is accompanied by the impact assessment and guidance on EU funding opportunities for healthy soils. Read more about the proposal here.
Water Europe has released a dedicated position paper on ‘Strengthening the Water-Soil Nexus for a Resilient Ecosystem and a Circular Society.’ Read it here.
Healthy soil is essential for water management due to its ability to absorb and retain water. It helps prevent runoff and erosion by acting as a natural sponge, thereby reducing the risk of flooding. Additionally, healthy soil facilitates water filtration, ensuring cleaner water by removing impurities and contaminants. Healthy soil is vital for the achievement of a Water-Smart Society.