Ireland’s soils need your help. We rely on soil to provide healthy food, clean water, support wildlife, store carbon, prevent flooding and ultimately maintain livelihoods around the country. But over the last half a century Ireland’s soils have come under increasing pressure from land use changes, intensification of agriculture, erosion and overgrazing, disposal of organic wastes to soils, afforestation, industry and urbanisation. Soils are not a renewable resource so when we lose them they are gone. Because of this, we need to protect them. We are asking people to sign a petition calling for protection measures to be brought in Ireland and across Europe.
Soil is an remarkable substance made up of minerals, rock particles, organic matter, air, water and living organisms. It is this combination of matter which supports life.
- Soil is a non-renewable resource. It takes 1,000 years for just 1cm of topsoil to form, yet we are losing the equivalent of 30 football pitches of fertile soil every single minute. 
- One third of the world’s arable land has been destroyed since 1960. In Europe, an area the size of Berlin is lost in soil every year. 
- Healthy soil is alive. One hectare of healthy soil contains contains 15 tonnes of living organisms – that’s the equivalent weight of 20 cows. 
- A single tablespoon of soil contains more living organisms than the entire human population on earth.
The degrading of Ireland’s soils is a threat to our ability to produce food now and into the future.
- Over 95% of our food comes either directly or indirectly from our soil. 
- Sustainable soil management, it has been found, could increase food production by 58%. 
- Unless we prevent the continued degradation of Ireland’s soils, our ability to produce healthy, good quality food now and in the future will be seriously jeapardised.
Well managed soils reduce the impact of drought and flooding. Soil compaction and erosion means that when it rains, the land holds less water and this can lead directly to flooding.
- Healthy soil can store as much as 3,750 tonnes of water (the equivalent of one and a half Olympic swimming pools) per hectare.
- With compacted soils, instant run-off from rain increases from 2% to 60%, with devastating consequences for homes, farmland and livelihoods.
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What we are calling for
We are calling for the European Union to create a Soil Directive which would make countries protect soils. Currently there are similar directives which protect water, air and nature. Protection for soils at European level would see the government have to assess the condition of Ireland’s soils and take action where needed. This could take the form of incentives for farmers
Who Are People4Soil?
“People 4 Soil” is a free and open network of European NGOs, research institutes, farmers associations and environmental groups. We are very worried about the increasing degradation of soils both in the EU and at global level. To see some of the organisations who make up the coalition here in Ireland, please click here.
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