A National Soil Health Policy Workshop was held February 6, 2020 at UKCEH Lancaster, supported by the UK-SCAPE SOC-D programme. The overall aim of the workshop was to share future thinking with respect to soil protection policies across Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland as we depart from the EU. A group of research organisations with expertise in national–scale soil data and analyses (UKCEH, BGS, Cranfield University, Forest Research and James Hutton Institute) met with members of the policy communities of England, Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland could not attend) to explore how current research activities could support national planning to ensure national policies are met whilst maintaining a UK-wide perspective and connection.
To set context for the workshop, Bridget Emmett (UKCEH) presented an overview of the purpose and activities of the new EU Soil Health and Food Mission Board. Soil Health was selected out of more than 40 topics proposed to the EU for one of its five new Mission Boards. The mission-orientated approach is intended to make it easier for citizens to understand the value of investments in research and innovation and to maximise the impact of investments by setting clearer targets and expected impacts when addressing global challenges.
The National Soil Health Policy Workshop was a part of the SOC-D sponsored series of Annual UK Soils Community Workshops (three have been held so far) involving researchers from UKCEH, Forest Research, James Hutton Institute, British Geological Survey and Cranfield University. The broad aim of these workshops is the identification and exploration of synergies among research organisations and HEIs with interests in soil processes, soil security and soil sustainability, with a view towards building research capacity and cooperation in the UK soils community. Future workshops are being planned to continue the involvement of the policy sector and to open the discussion to a broader base of interested parties.
Objectives of the workshop
- Gather key representatives from all UK national governments to share progress, current challenges and future opportunities concerning soil health.
- Identify and highlight the research, management and policy topics related to soil health deemed most relevant and important to the policy community.
Priority topics selected by attendees for discussion at the workshop
- Tracking change and monitoring (why, how and who does it)
- National policies (what works and doesn’t work)
- Climate change and soil carbon/health/resilience (questions and scenarios)
- Coordination and communication (across countries & raising awareness about soils)
- uksoils; the community hub for all things soil
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