Soil resource efficiency in urbanised areas - analytical framework and implications for governance

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Soil is a limited and non-renewable resource — implying that its supply is limited — of which a lot of functional demands are made. As well as the use of the soil resource for growing food, which has been done for millennia, the many and diverse services that can be derived from it are in particularly high demand in urbanised spaces, as these areas are where economic development and associated consumption related to the soil resource are especially evident. In the urban fringe — the transition zone between the core urban and rural zones — competing demands for the soil resource are likely. Depending on the demands in relation to the qualities of the soil resource in an urbanised area, soil may occasionally be considered a scarce resource.

In this report, we have explored the notion of soil as an integral part of ecosystems and natural capital, and thus focused on the stock of the soil resource and the flows of valuable goods and services that can be derived from this stock. The concept of natural capital recognises soil as an asset that is of use and benefit to society (also called a 'productive' asset). Putting soil within the framework of the land system allows a connection to be made with governance, including soil resource efficiency.

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