Europe’s ambitious 2030 target of improving soil health by 75% is mired by siloed conservation efforts, incomplete data assessments and one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t translate across landscapes. Soilhealth BENCHMARKS, a multi-stakeholder network focused on harmonizing soil health research and monitoring efforts continent-wide, aims to transform the region’s land-use decision-making efforts with a new participatory approach to soil management. 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People (1000L) partners are working at the center of it.
Soil is so much more than the dirt beneath our feet. It is at the heart of productive agriculture, healthy ecosystems and effective land management. It underpins global food security, rural livelihoods and urban infrastructure. But it’s hard to come by accurate soil health data when looking across the scale of landscapes. Launched earlier this year, Soilhealth BENCHMARKS assembles 29 partner organizations with experts spanning the public, private and academic sectors to tackle research, monitoring and implementation gaps in soil health and land-use initiatives.
This consortium will analyze 24 case studies spanning 13 countries across Europe to identify and create a series of tools. Just two of the critical projects they will collaborate on include a soil health measurement framework and an integrated soil health tool that links indicators, soil functions and ecosystem services. A case study in Spain will involve AlVelAl, a leading organization in the world of integrated landscape management and long-time collaborating landscape both to 1000L core partner Commonland and the broader 1000L initiative.
“Our landscape partners in Spain and The Netherlands are excited to be part of Soilhealth BENCHMARKS’ efforts to establish a multi-scale and multi-user-focused monitoring framework for soil health,” said Simon Moolenaar, Commonland’s director of knowledge, education and innovation. “Healthy soil is critical to sustaining effective landscape approaches. This work with BENCHMARKS will help 1000L access a clearer pathway to improving soil health in an integrated way and across landscapes.”
The network is just one example of a growing movement to reimagine sustainable development efforts in a way that simultaneously addresses environmental, social and economic challenges while empowering local leaders. In addition to providing critical land-use data for land managers and policymakers, BENCHMARKS also aims to provide a scientific basis and corresponding incentives that will inspire more sustainable value chains among businesses.
1000L partners look forward to engaging with the Soilhealth BENCHMARKS team in building momentum for robust and collaborative landscape partnerships founded on healthy, productive soils.