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Keywords:

  • common agricultural policy;
  • EU agriculture;
  • soil degradation;
  • policy implementation;
  • policy survey;
  • policy analysis;
  • environmental planning;
  • environmental policy

Abstract

Agricultural soils are being increasingly targeted by European Union (EU) policy measures including measures within the Common Agricultural Policy. Member states have implemented a variety of measures at the national and regional level, which regulate the use of soils or offer incentives for the adoption of soil conservation practices. However, information on the specific purposes and implementation of these measures is difficult to access and no comprehensive overview is available.

We have elaborated a classification system for agricultural policies that allows the analysis of their impact on soil conservation. Each policy was defined as a set of singular policy measures. The policy measures were described with their attributes i.e. the soil quality objectives within the policy and the technical measures required. This classification system was applied to establish a policy inventory on the regulatory framework concerning agricultural soil conservation in the EU-27. Data were gathered through a voluntary online survey completed by experts from national and regional ministries, administrative bodies and research institutes.

More than 50 experts and institutions from 24 EU Member States participated in the survey and more than 400 policy measures were entered into the database. The survey enabled a detailed and comparative analysis of the interrelationships among soil conservation practices, soil degradation processes and policy measures across member states at the national or regional level. Most policies, however, did not lead to the achievement of specific environmental goals that allowed for evaluation. In many cases, similar soil protection problems were addressed using different policy options. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.