ENVASSO: ENVironmental ASsessment of Soil for mOnitoring

The ENVironmental ASsessment of Soil for mOnitoring (ENVASSO) Project was funded as Scientific Support to Policy (SSP) under the European Commission 6th Framework Programme (Contract 022713, 2006-8).

The project's main objective was to define and document a soil monitoring system for implementation in support of a Soil Framework Directive, aimed at protecting soil in the EU

The ENVASSO Consortium, comprising 37 partners drawn from 25 EU Member States, succeeded in reviewing existing soil inventories, monitoring programmes, soil indicators and criteria that could serve as a base for a soil monitoring system for Europe. Procedures and protocols appropriate for inclusion in a European soil monitoring system were defined and fully documented and 22 of these procedures were evaluated in 28 Pilot Areas. In conclusion, an outline European Soil Monitoring System, comprising a network of geo-referenced sites at which a qualified sampling process is or could be conducted, is presented.

The six final reports from the ENVASSO project can be downloaded through the following links:

  • PDF version, Zip version. Volume I identifies 290 potential indicators relating to 188 key issues for nine threats to soil identified in the Commission's Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection. These threats are: erosion, organic matter decline, contamination, sealing, compaction, loss of biodiversity, salinisation, landslides and desertification. Sixty indicators that address 27 key issues, covering all these threats, were selected on the basis of their thematic relevance, policy relevance and data availability. Baseline and threshold values are presented and three priority indicators for each threat are identified. Fact sheets describe the priority indicators in more detail.
  • Volume II has two parts and constitutes the most comprehensive study to date of the soil inventory and monitoring activities in the European Union.
    - PDF version, Zip version Volume IIa identifies the existing soil inventory and monitoring systems in the EU Member States and evaluates the extent to which existing soil monitoring networks adequately represent European soil typological units, land use/cover, specific soil criteria - such as soil organic carbon, bulk density, heavy metal contents - and existing spatial assessments of threats to soil such as soil erosion, compaction and desertification.
    - PDF version, Zip version. Volume IIb is a Survey of National Soil Monitoring Networks, containing comprehensive fact sheets listing for each national network, its purpose, the sampling strategy adopted, the analytical methods used and the number of monitoring sites. Gaps in the coverage of these existing national networks are identified and the minimum number of new sites that would be needed to provide harmonised coverage at European scale is estimated.
  • PDF version, Zip version. Volume III reviews user-needs for soil information and briefly describes existing soil information systems in a selection of Member States. Data models and database designs are also examined and requirements for future processing of soil data are reviewed in the context of developing a Web Soil Service. A data model is proposed and a soil database (SoDa) programmed to provide a harmonised basis for capturing new soil data. SoDa was tested in a number of ENVASSO Pilot Areas and modified in the light of feedback from the testing process. A SoDa user manual is included as an Appendix to Volume III.
  • Volume IV also comprises two parts:
    - PDF version, Zip version Volume IVa summarises the results of testing 22 indicator procedures in 28 Pilot Areas in the Member Sates. The indicator testing was successful in the majority of cases and most were judged to applicable at European scale. Overall these pilot area studies provided valuable information in support of developing a harmonised soil monitoring system for Europe.
    - PDF version, Zip version. Volume IVb contains 28 Pilot Area study reports that adhere to a standard reporting template to aid comparison and evaluation. They represent a wide range of soil-landscapes from the north to the south of Europe, some of which are transnational, and also represent the most comprehensive investigation to date of indicator performance at European level.
  • PDF version, Zip version Volume V describes the procedures and protocols needed for harmonised soil monitoring in Europe which have been modified following the extensive testing of 22 indicators in 28 Pilot Areas of EU Member States reported in Volume IV. These procedures and protocols are presented in a standard format that is designed to facilitate implementation.
  • PDF version, PDF version. Volume VI summarises the results presented in the preceding volumes (I-V) and concludes with a proposed approach to monitoring soil conditions in Europe. A framework is proposed and the number of new monitoring sites needed to cover area, as yet not characterised, are estimated. The results of the ENVASSO Project (Volumes I-VI) provide a basis for implementing a soil monitoring programme in the near future but they are the scientific opinions of the ENVASSO Consortium, presented here without prejudice, and in no way represent the official position of the European Commission on soil monitoring in Europe.

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