ETC/ULS Report 02/2018: Integrated accounting of land cover changes and soil functions

01 Feb 2019

This report is the outcome of a study that was executed during the past five years by the EEA and ETC/ULS with support from EIONET (NRCs land use and spatial planning) and the European Soil Data Centre of DG JRC.

The analysis represents the first attempt to assess land use efficiency at a European scale. Several new data sets relating specifically to soil functions, were published only recently, and this made assessment possible. A key aim of this work was to study land cover changes and their positive or negative impacts on soil functions, and to obtain a disaggregated hotspot analysis and an overall balance of those impacts on soil functions. The report follows a logical flow.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the context of the study. It lays out a framework by giving information on the status of land and soil in the context of land resource efficiency, listing the most relevant current global and European policies, and introducing the concepts of soil function and land multi-functionality.

Chapter 2 provides details of the study’s input data, in particular the land cover flows as well as the pan-European soil function data, further explains the concept of multi-functionality and introduces the impact evaluation matrix.

The combined presentation of land processes and soil functions is the major topic in Chapter 3, whereas Chapter 4 then focuses on the impacts of a number of selected, sector-related land processes on several of the soil functions. The latter also identifies a number of hotspot regions at the NUTS 3 level in which the potential of soils to provide certain functions might be substantially affected.

At the end of the report, Chapter 5 provides information on the balance of impacts, by looking at the predominantly positive and predominantly negative impacts to assess the overall situation in Europe, but also at national and regional level. Finally, Chapter 6 identifies the implications of the analysis for land governance and attempts to shed light on the status of land resource efficiency in Europe.