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Soil is Rapidly Deteriorating in Europe; It’s a Warning to Other Nations

According to the latest study by the European Commission on Soil Health, up to 70% of soils in the EU are losing their ability to perform critical ecological functions.

Shivani Meena
Deteriorated Soil Health
Deteriorated Soil Health

According to a recent study, the soil of the Mediterranean region is eroding and land is turning to desert quicker than any other place in the European Union. Experts warn that the combined consequences of unsustainable land practices and climate change have reduced a scarce resource to the point that it is no longer usable. 

Mediterranean region: A region with the greatest rates of erosion and lowest organic matter 

Seawater intrusion, erosion, drought, and wildfires are all regular events in the shallow soil of the Mediterranean region. In reality, this region has the greatest rates of erosion and the lowest amounts of soil organic matter in the European Union. Meanwhile, the dense population of the region has resulted in widespread concrete or asphalt streets, as well as heavy metal and pesticide contamination of the ground. 

When soil is healthy, it can store and drain water. It also produces 95% of the food consumed by humans. The essential life-giving activities of soil are disrupted when it is degraded. The Mediterranean cuisine and economy are praised for their tomatoes, grapes, and olives, yet they are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. Despite this, there has been relatively little study done on the likely causes of soil deterioration in the region. 

Only a few studies focus on Biological deterioration 

Many of the research included in the review focused on erosion-related soil deterioration, while just a few looked at biological degradation. Ants and earthworms are recognized to aid in the regulation of nutrients below ground, and their efforts serve to maintain the soil's integrity. Have these underground communities altered as a result of human influence? And how is this affecting the environment around them? 

We don't know the answers, and we're out of time to figure them out. 

The risk of desertification 

Droughts have been on the rise in the Mediterranean since the 1950s, forcing some farmers to quit their property and putting the region at risk of desertification. Wildfires may become more likely as a result of this. 

The authors state, "Changes to agricultural systems, together with other land-use changes, are contributing to critical levels of habitat loss." "This is especially concerning because the Mediterranean region is known for its amazing biodiversity, which includes a huge number of endemic species... " 

This research, which is the first to assess and evaluate the status of soil in the European Mediterranean, finds that no special EU regulation exists to safeguard rural soils from urbanization. Despite a review identifying salinization to be a substantial threat to the soil, it is not addressed in specific EU policies. 

The authors conclude, "Overall, there is a widespread absence of frequent systematic assessments of Mediterranean soils, as well as a formal authority to compile and integrate relevant information." 

If the EU intends to avoid additional soil degradation, it must cease treating its soil as dirt. 

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