Future Soil Protection

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This generation has a responsibility for safeguarding and sustaining the environment and handing it on to the next generation in a reasonable condition. There is much evidence to date that we have not been looking after the environment, including soils, adequately, and there is much evidence of temporary and permanent damage. Yet the population of the world is increasingly rapidly - expected to rise by another 40 percent in the next 45 years taking it to 9 billion. There is going to be increasing pressure to produce more and more food to feed this growing population but there is more and more evidence of widespread land degradation and in some developing countries declining soil fertility.

There are several concerns to which we need to give strong attention. Firstly, we need to develop a better understanding of soils, their properties and their potential. This must be the key to proper land management and soil protection. Biodiversity of soils is a good example of where there is an urgent need develop a sounder knowledge so that we can manage the soil resource. We know there are mind-boggling numbers and diversity of organisms in soils but we know relatively little about the role that play. Using the soil more and more intensively without such an understanding is a recipe for huge mistakes.

We continue to damage our soils worldwide. There is increasing land degradation which takes the form of soil erosion, land turning into deserts, and large areas becoming affected by salinisation. Millions of hectares of precious land have become severely damaged. Human activity, particularly in the form of industrialisation, has led to increasing levels of pollution and, in some cases, to severe damage to the environment, including air, soils and water. This pollution is also impacting on our climate and causing it to change. It is time to face these numerous concerns about the damage to our environment. There are some indications that some governments are beginning to understand the increasingly serious situation regarding damage to our soils but many are not and everywhere much stronger management and protection must be introduced if soils are to support future populations.

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