Newsletter n.62


1.EXPERIENCES: Our forests, forest fires and climate change

2.NEWS FROM THE SIP FORUM : General Meeting, Milan – 12 October 2019

3.NEWS ON THE SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS: Delta International Summer School 2019 – a Green Week



Our forests, forest fires and climate change

The media is full of stories about the woods in the summer, then forgets about them for the rest of the year. In reality woodland and forest fires are destructive events that have recently assumed catastrophic proportions. In 2017, 65 people died in Portugal; in 2018 it was the turn of California and Greece, with hundreds of deaths and many properties destroyed. Italy too has seen huge fires that fortunately have not resulted in deaths: in one night in September 2018 more than 1200 hectares of woods and olive groves burned on Monte Pisano (PI) with the destruction of 12 houses; in 2017, 273 hectares of pinewood burned in Marina di Grosseto, along with 26 cars, right next to campsites and houses.

Forest fires are an ecological factor, especially in the Mediterranean (where 95% of fires in Europe occur) whose vegetation has developed adaptations that help it recover more quickly after the event. The depopulation of mountain areas in the last 50 years has led to an abandonment of woodland management, with accumulations of wood and, above all, ever decreasing maintenance of the land, and especially of open spaces. In 5 years the wooded area of Mediterranean countries has increased by 1.8 million hectares (for further information here) replacing pastures, meadows and cultivated areas. Fires with natural causes (not much more than 1% in Italy) are vastly outnumbered by those with human causes, including those that are started deliberately. The increased frequency of fires leads to lower capacity to recover (resilience) on the part of the woodlands. To this worrying picture we must add climate change (see here): the increase in temperatures, the changes in rainfall and in the direction and strength of the winds lead to more frequent and more intense fires which are increasingly difficult to control. Continua a leggere “Our forests, forest fires and climate change”


SIP Forum’s General Meeting, Milan- 12 October 2019

The SIP Forum’s General Meeting will be held in Milan on 12 October. It will be an opportunity to take stock and relaunch. There are many subjects to discuss, including the organization’s structure.

Since the last national meeting, held in Ancona in November 2015, many things have been achieved, but others have not followed the expected course. The Forum needs to analyse the reasons for this, in order to reassess its aims and ensure that these can be achieved with the resources available. We invite our readers to send us their views on the Forum and its activities: everything you tell us will be a spur to move forward and improve.


An internship opportunity in Brussels

The European Soil Group and the SIP Forum have decided to start creating opportunities for young people who are interested in the soil/land/landscape to take part in and become involved in its activities.

With this in mind, we want to put together a group of university students who will be offered the opportunity to write their theses on subjects suggested by the  Forum. It is expected that the young people who become involved, who will be students at Italian universities, not necessarily the same one, will be put in touch with one another so they can work collaboratively. In addition to motivation, they will have to be in possession of the necessary means to get in grips with the situations existing in other EU member states.

One of the first initiatives relates to the European dimension of the soil and will be managed in particular by the GSE. For this reason, it will involve an internship of around three months in  Brussels for which funding will be available. Continua a leggere “An internship opportunity in Brussels”


The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)

The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) is a sustainability think tank committed to advancing impact-driven policy across the EU and the world. Born in 1976 in Bonn (Germany), it has now officially its offices in Brussels and London. Their team of economists, scientists and lawyers work with partners across EU institutions, international bodies, academia, civil society and industry, to produce evidence-based research and policy insight. Its work covers both short-term policy issues and long-term strategic studies and it spans nine research areas: agriculture and land management; climate change and energy; green economy; industrial pollution and chemicals; water, marine and fisheries; natural resources and waste; biodiversity and ecosystem services; global challenges and SDGs; environmental governance. IEEP funding comes mainly from European or International projects acquired through open public-procurement procedures.

Back in 2012, The Manual of European Environmental Policy produced by IEEP provided a comprehensive account of EU environmental policy. It included every item of ‘pure’ EU environmental legislation and provides a description of how environmental policy has been integrated into other EU policies such as those for agriculture, transport, and energy. A specific section of the Manual was on Land degradation and protection.

Lately, October 2018, IEEP raised to the attention of European Institutions a specific report on science-policy solutions for a more sustainable Europe: “30×30 Actions for a Sustainable Europe#Think2030 Action Plan”.


It identifies 30 serious environmental problems, and points out that they need to be faced up to quickly.

It illustrates problems and solutions in a clear and concise way for non specialist readers.


The soil is treated in a very cursory and superficial way (it is mentioned at point 19 – page 32), with the risk of degradation being described as being due mainly to desertification.

We invite readers to read the document and send their analyses, critiques and comments to suolo.europa@gmail.com .


Delta International Summer School 2019 – a Green Week

The Delta International Summer School – DISS – is a 6-day interdisciplinary course, a workout for brains and hands, run by the  Dipartimento di Architettura di UniFe and the Scuola Superiore di Studi sulla Città e il Territorio di UniBo (based in Ravenna). The course receives European funds from the L.E.A.D.E.R. (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rural) Local Action Plan Measure 19  (Community-Led Local Development). Since 1989 LEADER has been one of the EU’s policy tools to promote innovation in rural areas through Local Action Groups (LAGs, in this case Delta 2000), with the aim of developing and delivering sustainable local development strategies and cooperative projects between different areas.

School for some finishes in June (or July) while for others that is when it starts. Or perhaps we should say it never finishes: we have known for many years that education is a lifelong process, especially for professionals. Continua a leggere “Delta International Summer School 2019 – a Green Week”


Symphony of the soil

Searing heat? Torrential rain? Hailstones the size of peaches? Flooding of roads, fields and houses? The arrival of swarms of grasshoppers? Mosquitoes that become ever more numerous and aggressive? … We could go on for a long time about the problems experienced over the past few weeks. Sometimes it is hard to remember that all of this springs from our poor soil management. So let’s stop for a moment and try to think. Even better, let’s relax by watching Symphony of the Soil, a superb film that covers everything about the soil from its creation to its use. Lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes, the film is in English but can be understood even by those with little grasp of the language thanks to the soundtrack. It is the fruit of collaboration by dozens of scholars and researchers,  but it differs from existing films thanks to its high artistic quality. The soil is the main character and its story shows us the elaborate relationships  between it and water, the atmosphere, plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria.

The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on the soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights the possibility of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.

The film’s orchestral score is superb, and the film deserves to be watched on that account alone. Indeed, the music creates a feeling of serenity and balance that is unusual in nature  films, conveying the essential part played by the soil in supporting life on earth.


4 per 1000 Initiative:July 2019 Newsletter 4

The Initiative’s 4th Newsletter is packed with interesting information and provides an overview of what the organization is doing. It is impossible to summarize all the important information here. We will come back to some of the topics in future Newsletters. In the meantime, we draw our readers’ attention to:

  1.  The conference “Food security and climate change:  4  per  1000  Initiative  new  tangible  global  challenges”  was held from June 18 to 20, 2019 in Poitiers (France). The conference brought together 4p1000 critics as well as supporters. One day was dedicated to controversial topics. Moreover, there were people from NGOs, from farmers’ organizations and even big companies giving talks about their vision of the “4 per 1000”.The  conference  was  a  good  demonstration  of  how  to proceed  in  order  to  make  progress  in  this  multi-stakeholder  In summary, there was a strong recommendation to invest and consider the soil as a business case namely through alternative practices (e.g. agroecology, regenerative agriculture…). In addition, effective policies are recommended to incentivize farmers to adopt best practices, while informing them about the co-benefits of soil carbon sequestration. There was also strong support for the creation of a new virtual ‘soils information system’, that builds upon existing foundational pieces, but with greatly expanded content, consistency and access, that is global in scope. Conference report HERE
  2. Healthy Soils to Cool The Planet” – A Philanthropic Action Guide: This  guide focuses  on philanthropic  and  investment  opportunities  to  promote  healthy  soils  and  soil  carbon sequestration primarily  through  changes  in  agricultural  practices.  Focus topics  and  strategic  systems  are  featured  as  “game-changers”  with:  waste  to  compost,  geographic  hotspots, peatlands, ecological restoration & green infrastructure as well as irrigated rice. This  guide provides  an  initial  roadmap  for  investing  in  healthy  soils  to  help  cool  the  planet  and  enhance resilience.

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