SOILGUARD is a 4-year Horizon 2020 project aimed at boosting sustainable soil management to release soil biodiversity potential and increase environmental, economic, and social well-being.
Unsustainable soil management practices (e.g. inappropriate application of fertilisers and deforestation) and climate change stressors (e.g. drought and heat waves) are the main drivers of land degradation and the main challenges for soil biodiversity. Land degradation affected 3.2 billion people in 2020. Urgent action is needed to integrate sustainable soil management practices and the perception of soil biodiversity as a key nature-based solution (NBS) to land degradation and climate change stressors. This concept is closely linked to sustainable soil management (SSM) practices. SSM practices are the means to stimulate soil biodiversity and maximise its role as an NBS. However, our capacity to carry out reliable and comprehensive assessments of soil biodiversity is insufficient and represents a new challenge to increase the impact of SSM practices.
The objective of SOILGUARD is to stimulate the sustainable use of soil biodiversity in order to protect the multifunctionality of soils and to increase economic, social, and environmental well-being. This will be achieved by collecting strong evidence of the links between soil management, soil biodiversity, soil multifunctionality, and human well-being in bio-geographical regions. This evidence will be obtained through an innovative holistic framework on wellbeing and soil biodiversity. SOILGUARD will assess the status of soil biodiversity and its contribution to the provision and value of soil-mediated ecosystem services (ES) in relation to the threats of land degradation, unsustainable soil management, and climate change.
In this project, the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) will be responsible for project communication and dissemination and be involved in the co-design of the strategic plan, including the Soil Biodiversity and Soil Environmental Assessment framework, and will participate in the engagement activities (mapping of key stakeholders) and policy-related activities at the European level.