Protecting our Future
Global food security depends upon protecting the health and quality of soils – ensuring fertility for increasing crop yields, helping cope with drought, maintaining human health through providing essential nutrients to our diets and sequestering carbon. Yet we treat it like dirt.
UK soils are more resilient than most, but average rates of erosion are five times those of soil formation and there is good evidence of significant losses of soil organic carbon. Globally and at home some of the best agricultural soils are being lost to urban development and housing – known as ‘soil sealing’. Can we afford to allow these trends to continue?
In 2006, as part of the EU soil Thematic Strategy, a Soil Directive was proposed. But the UK government (along with Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Malta) blocked its implementation. In 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organisation launched a Global Soil Partnership to improve governance of soil resources. The UK Government is not currently active in this partnership.
What needs to happen?
There needs to be an urgent debate about the state of our soils in the UK and around the world. So far the current UK government has demonstrated a lack of visible action, targets or indicators on soil policy. We set out five challenges to the government ensure that protecting our soils is at the heart of food related policy: