Caring for Soils - Where Our Roots Grow.

Soil Function Maps as Foundation for qualitative and quantitative soil protection for local decision-makers

In Austria a standard for soil function assessment was developed ÖNORM L1076. Following these standards soil function maps have been developed, also in Tyrol, the primary Links4Soils case study area for spatial planning. The soil function assessment now provides a sound basis for assessing soil fertility, water storage and filtering capacity, and the importance of soil for plants and soil organisms. In Tyrol, the soil function assessment is available for all agricultural areas.

Together with the former project partner LAND-PLAN and the Office of the Tyrolean Government as well as local planning bureaus municipalities were consulted in the form of "round tables" on the integration of soil-relevant questions in the local spatial planning decision-making processes.

These round tables were implemented in different formats that can be seen in the following presentations.

Results of case study: Concept for integration of soils in planning processes

Impressions of the case study activities

Case study on integration of soil quality in spatial planning decision-making

As part of Links4Soils, various formats to discuss soil-related topics were developed and tested in six Tyrolean communities: Public events, community inspections, exhibitions, school workshops and targeted workshops with the community council or committee (also in cooperation with other organizations) were carried out. In the course of the application test of the not yet published soil function maps of Tyrol, the soil function maps were intensely discussed in two municipalities (Volders and Mutters) and the specific application for decision-making processes was discussed with the municipal council or committee.
The case study in the Tyrolean municipalities on the integration of soil protection in local politics showed the soil-related needs of the mayor, local council, administration and population. The major differences in the examined community can be explained by the prevailing political culture and the understanding of planning.
Soil-relevant concerns of mayors and municipal councilors are in particular the following: creating living space for the population, raising soil awareness, organically planting and caring for community-owned green spaces in the settlement area. In contrast, there are some to curb the dedication and construction activities against conflicting interests. To make agriculture more sustainable, to consider soil life and soil compaction in agriculture in order to maintain and improve the ecosystem.
Several formats of soil communication were tested to put soil on the agenda in communities. Especially in communities with a long tradition of sustainable agendas and discussion events, public events on the subject of settlement development and spatial planning were met with great interest. The participants can for the most part well assess current dynamics and key figures of settlement development and understand global relationships (e.g. import of food due to high virtual land consumption in Austria).
Working with the municipal council in committees or workshops proved to be expedient if the relevant local basics were ideally available in the form of soil function maps. This made the local reference and the importance of the soils in the municipality clear. This relationship was reinforced when soil profiles were dug on site and addressed. At the local level, there is a lot of knowledge about past and present management methods, which can be well discussed on the basis of the soil made visible.
The publication of the soil function maps would be an important addition to the spatial planning process for the investigated municipalities and was supported by all representatives.