The Alpine Soil Partnership (AlpSP)

The Alpine Soil Partnership (AlpSP) joins forces of soil experts and the users of soil knowledge (authorities, practitioners, NGO’s, etc.) to introduce soil protection in land management practices better and promotes Alpine-wide cooperation on soil protection & soil ecosystem services management. AlpSP links experts on horizontal and vertical levels: Public authorities and soil experts have the opportunity to understand gaps & needs of soil conservation better to integrate solutions and created tools in their day-to-day work as a new standard. Fragmented soil knowledge will be linked and reconciled at the transnational level.

Common framework of the Alpine Soil Partnership

  • Soils are a relevant factor for a functioning ecosystem and perform essential services for us: Link to SES.
    The UN adapted 17 Goals that are necessary for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Soils can contribute to at least ten of them (No. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17) and the challenge is to expand particularly No. 2, 4, 11, 13, 17.
  • Soils affect and are affected by climate change. Soils store more carbon than the atmosphere and vegetation together. Climate change challenges and changes the current ecosystem balance. Alpine soils are even more sensitive and diverse due to the largely diverse relief, climate etc. Climate change in the Alps also is more important than in low-lands. Soils play an essential role in climate change mitigation as well as climate change adaption by enhancing the resilience of our environment.
  • Sustainable use of soils has been defined by the revised World Soil Charter (2015) as: “Soil management is sustainable if the supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services provided by soil are maintained or enhanced without significantly impairing (…) biodiversity”. Soils react (slowly) to environmental and climatic changes as well as to land uses and management practices. Soils are currently threatened by soil sealing, soil erosion and loss of soil organic matter.
    Sustainable soil management aims at improving soil parameters that can be influenced by management practices in different sectors (e.g. presence of earthworms, erosion evidence, compaction, organic matter content, roots, friability, soil respiration).
  • Sustainable soil management needs to be adopted in all land use sectors (agriculture, forestry, tourism, spatial planning,…) by implementing good soil management practices that maintain, balance or improve SES but also do not render impossible the principal services of the land use sector, e.g. provisioning of food in the case of agriculture. This means linking soil dynamics with the challenges of the land use management to guarantee a win-win situation.

The Alpine Soil Partnership is founded on a common Memorandum of Understanding.

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Operationalisation of the Alpine Soil Partnership:

Adoption of the Memorandum on strategies for an improved implementation of the Alpine Convention Soil Conservation Protocol. Improved and applied soil knowledge for better integration of soil-based ecosystem services in management and decision-making.

Establishment of a formal long-lasting AlpSP will strengthen alpine soil management and protection and the implementation of the Alpine Convention Soil Conservation Protocol. The AlpSP induces soil management networking and helps to overcome knowledge gaps, as it links cross-sectoral Alpine soil stakeholders, end-user needs and mitigates Ecosystem based Soil Services (EbSS) management gaps.