Can the answer be in the soil?
RECARE Project – finding and sharing solutions to protect our soils
A growing world population has to deal with increasingly urgent issues of food security, flooding and drought, as well as pollution, which threaten agricultural productivity and the environment. The answer to all these urgent issues could rest in the soil.
Soil is vital to supporting food production as well as the filtering of water consumed by humans and plants. In addition, soil cycles and stores nutrients which are key to supporting life, as well as holding water to alleviate the stresses of both drought and flooding and storing carbon to mitigate against climate change.
Due to growing human intervention and unsustainable management, soils are currently under increasing threat from a wide range of processes, such as soil erosion, compaction, desertification, salinization, sealing, contamination and loss of organic matter and biodiversity. They need to be adequately protected and conserved to ensure that their many functions and services are not lost or diminished.
With the importance of soil in mind, the EU has funded a 5 year research project that will be looking at measures to prevent and remediate soil degradation in Europe.
The project, entitled RECARE, will bring together a multidisciplinary team to find ways of assessing the current threats to soils and finding innovative solutions to prevent further soil degradation across Europe, from Iceland to Cyprus. Researchers from 27 different organisations, including The Cyprus Institute, will share information regarding the current evidence and approaches to resolve the main threats to soils.
Prof. Coen Ritsema, Chair of the Soil Physics and Land Management Group at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and leader for the project says that “the exciting thing about this project is that it seeks to look at soils across the whole of Europe”.
The research in Cyprus focuses on soil erosion in the steep mountainous terrain of Troodos. Due to the decreasing population of the rural mountain communities and the high production costs, many terraces are no longer cultivated and maintained. This sometimes leads to a domino effect of collapsing terraces. Uncontrolled growth of vegetation also makes the land susceptible to forest fires, which could lead to further land degradation. The Cyprus Institute’s research team aims to involve a wide variety of stakeholders to develop sustainable options and institutions for mountain terrace management.
As good communication is essential to optimise the value of research, the project results will be continuously disseminated through a dedicated RECARE Information Hub. Given the critical state of the environment, it is essential that the research outputs are shared between scientists, but also feed through to those working with and advising on soils, so that they can function as effectively as possible, to the benefit of all.
View the embedded image gallery online at:
For more information about the project visit http://www.recare-project.eu/ or the RECARE Information Hub http://www.recare-hub.eu. Further information is also available on Twitter @RECARE_EU and Vimeo http://vimeo.com/channels/RECARE
For further information you can contact:
Dr. Adriana Bruggeman
Energy, Environment and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute.
Prof. Coen Ritsema
RECARE Project Co-ordinator, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
The Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire, UK is responsible for the Communication and Dissemination activities of the RECARE project.