Joseph Lewis
30 July 2020

Policy solutions for land and soil: call for engagement

As part of our ongoing work to stand up for science, scientists, and the natural world, the IES is leading a process to embed the best available environmental science in policy around the management of land and soil resources, both in the UK and more widely. Over the coming weeks, we will be drawing together discussions from a working group of experts with the best available evidence and contributions from our members. At the end of this process, we hope to produce policy recommendations which give a clear voice to the environmental sciences and which have the potential to make a positive contribution to decision-making about land management and soil.

The UK Government has rightly acknowledged the importance of good land management in its 25-Year Environmental Plan, Environment Bill, and Agriculture Bill which have set out a framework under which environmental considerations need to be made going forwards, including questions of land management. Furthermore, COVID-19 has given us cause to reflect and reconsider the future of food, land use, and how that land is managed. Central to all these issues is the question of how we approach the interactions between land management and soil resources, both from a natural capital perspective but also in terms of the full range of integrated benefits which can be achieved from a systems approach to land and soil.

Our strength as an organisation comes from the many specialisms we represent across the environmental sciences, and the different ways that these specialisms interact with land and soils. In order to ensure that our policy recommendations represent the best available science, and to ensure our members’ expertise is fed into decision making, we want to hear your thoughts and comments on the questions below to inform our work going forwards.

The policy development process will address the approach taken to land management and the use of soil. Land management refers to a broad range of environmental activities, but for the purposes of this policy development work, we are focusing on the areas where the management of land is likely to interact directly with soil. When you respond, please indicate your personal and professional interests in land management and soil so that we have context for your comments.

Respond to our call for engagement

We would welcome any comments from members on this topic, though we are particularly interested in your thoughts on the following questions:

  1. How should land and soil resources be managed, and what barriers do you think exist to achieving the most beneficial management of land and soil?
  2. What factors should we consider when evaluating the quality of soil and its role in the management of land?
  3. How would you prioritize the following considerations in our evaluation of soil quality?
    1. The extent to which the ways we use soil are sustainable
    2. The extent to which soil resources are resilient against future harm
    3. The extent to which soil is ‘healthy’ and/or possesses salient qualities e.g. micronutrients
    4. The extent to which soil is able to provide a basis for food production
    5. The extent to which soil is able to provide environmental benefits e.g. ecosystem provision and carbon sequestration
    6. The extent to which soil is able to safeguard against environmental risks e.g. water infiltration for flood risk management
  4. What policy solutions do you think should be considered as part of the wider approach to addressing land management and soils? Should policy solutions differ between urban and agricultural land and in what ways?

You can respond to our call for engagement by getting in touch. The deadline for responses is Thursday 13th August at 12 noon.