Soils bring life to settlements

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 (Image: Pixabay CC0)
(Image: Pixabay CC0)

Healthy soils are essential for quality of life: they are the basis for agriculture, for trees, gardens and parks. During heavy rainfall, they soak up rainwater, and on hot days they cool the air. Soils need to be treated with care if they are to perform their many functions. To mark International Soil Day on December 5, 2022, public authorities, agricultural representatives, nature conservation organizations, and experts from science and spatial planning are committed to preserving soils in urban areas.

Soils are under pressure: around 60 percent of settlement areas in Switzerland are built on or concreted over, asphalted or paved over. To mark International Soil Day on December 5, 2022 (see box), national and cantonal authorities as well as organizations from the fields of science, nature conservation, agriculture and spatial planning are joining forces to call for better consideration of the multiple functions of soils in planning and use and to keep soils healthy. Living soils fulfill production, regulatory and habitat functions and thus meet a multitude of different demands.

Many demands on soils in settlement areas

A particularly large number of demands come together in settlement areas: Soils are the basis for our living space and our leisure activities. Soils absorb precipitation and thus reduce the risk of flooding. In dry weather, the water evaporates again, and soils contribute to a pleasant urban climate. Soils are also indispensable for trees in parks or for vegetables and flowers in private gardens. They are thus the basis for attractive and livable settlements.

For the supply of food, the people in the settlements depend on productive soils in the surrounding area, which ensure good yields for agriculture in the long term. In order to conserve cultivated land, settlements must be built more densely. This densification must be designed in such a way that high-quality green spaces with healthy soils are preserved. Careful planning offers opportunities to preserve and strengthen soils and their diverse functions.

December 5, 2022 - International Soil Day

The International Soil Day reminds us of the importance of soils. For Soil Day 2022, federal and cantonal authorities as well as organizations from the fields of science, nature conservation, agriculture and spatial planning have come together for the first time in a joint campaign. Under the motto "Soil: Quality of Life for Town and Village" in video messages how they are committed to preserving healthy soils. The focus is on the soils of settlements, which make a significant contribution to the quality of life in our towns and villages. Concrete examples of soil protection and conservation can be found in the accompanying dossier.

Communication partner for the International Soil Day in Switzerland

Federal Office for the Environment FOEN
Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE
Federal Office for Agriculture BLW
Competence Center Soil (KOBO)
Canton Geneva
Canton Lucerne
Canton of Vaud
Soil Competence Center - Valais (KOBO - Valais)
Cercle sol (Soil Protection Offices of the Cantons)
University of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL)
Soil Science Society of Switzerland (BGS)
Swiss Farmers’ Union (SBV)
Swiss Foundation for Landscape Protection (SL)
Pro Natura Switzerland
sanu durabilitas

Address for queries

FOEN Media Section
58 462 90 00


Federal Office for the Environment FOEN