Newsletter n.73


1.EXPERIENCES: Educational trails in the Veneto


3.NEWS ON THE SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS: The EU machine has started to move



Educational trails in the Veneto

The Centro Internazionale Civiltà dell’Acqua [International Centre for the Civilization of Water] is a Veneto non-profit created “to achieve a more longsighted management of water resources and to spread new knowledge and more sustainable behaviours regarding the water and landscape heritage“. The Centre is also the creator and mainstay of the “Water Museum of Venice” (a member of the Water Museums Global Network). This is a digital museum that covers the area of the Tre Venezie, illustrating famous and historic landscapes that are closely connected to water and to the natural heritage. It provides geo-referenced digital routes, via a free downloadable audioguide, that accompany the visitor while offering further information, videos and interviews at various points along the way.

So far, so similar to the existing apps on nature and on cultural or artistic locations. These routes have features that make them unique, however: they are at once a historical reconstruction, a natural journey, an ecological solution and an educational trail. A few dozen are available, some of them in both English and Italian https://www.watermuseumofvenice.com/tour.  This is the latest one, on Meolo. Here is the introduction:

“Perfect symbiosis between humanity and Nature can exist, and the Belvedere Wood in Meolo, which has been restored and is now completely accessible, confirms this. Continua a leggere “Educational trails in the Veneto”


SIP Committee in Cislago

The ESG (European Soil Group) has around 60 members, each one of which represents one or more local associations. One of the aims of the ESG is to inform people about what is happening at the European level regarding soil/land/landscape. This Newsletter is the most visible manifestation of this, but to “communicate” we also need to get to know one another better. This is why we have invited ESG members to present their local groups.

First up is the SIP [Save the Landscape] Committee in Cislago.

“Cislago is a Comune with about 10,000 residents, in the province of Varese in the area known as the Basso Varesotto. As a Committee we don’t do anything very special, apart from making life difficult for those who in one way or another want to cover the few remaining green spaces with asphalt and cement.

 We focus particularly on the cases of those who surreptitiously enclose pieces of land with hedges of cherry laurel in the hope of then building on them. In the meantime they put up illegal shacks (with little gardens to distract attention, “in all innocence”) and carry out building work on these pieces of land (which have been taken out of cultivation despite being in the middle of areas of farmland and woodland that are designated, “Environmentally protected”…).

The threats and insults of the owners (who we bombard with protests and official complaints) have not been lacking in recent years.

The agreement of the general population is growing, however, because our actions are not only or mainly repressive, but rather part of a cultural battle to change the mentality of what is “private property”. This basically guarantees to a few people the “freedom” to spoil or obscure the view (by closing off open spaces around towns and farms) with hedges that are essentially WALLS (of cherry laurel) because they are so high, wide, long and dense. People have the right to enjoy views of the LANDSCAPE. For about 20 or 30 years the Town Council has allowed this behaviour, which has led to increased degradation of the landscape and allowed new construction to take place. What it could and should have done is promote restoration of existing building stock. This protective attitude towards unregulated building has also hampered our “cement census”, ie identifying the houses, industrial sheds, shops and other buildings that are empty and unlet.

One of our other initiatives is as promoters of a new farmland/woodland park over several Comuni and more than one province (between the Basso Varesotto and the Basso Comasco, involving 7 Comuni) which would allow us to protect the few remaining Natural Areas.”

For more info, contact Maurizio Cremascoli: salviamoilpaesaggioelaterra@gmail.com


GNDE (Civil Society) ≠ GNE (Commission European) – Vive la différence!: Suggestions for changing behaviour

GNDE –Civil Society 

We have been asked why we “like” the GNDE. Many people have pointed out that they do not find specific “ecological” ideas there that show the path to be followed.

We will try to explain why we regard it as essential to refer to the GNDE.

As “lovers” of the soil we are ready to list the ways in which it can be protected and passed on in good condition. We can list particular methods and techniques, down to descriptions of the microscopic structures of clay and the positions of vacuums (infinitesimal spaces of air in the soil). But does this knowledge enable us to change the behaviour of individuals and the various people responsible politically and technically? The answer is no.

The same goes for the other problems related to climate change.

In pratice we can regard ourselves as Cassandras, ignored by all.

So what does the GNDE do that is important?

It creates the frame of reference in which the actions to protect nature and ecosystems must be inserted. It does it by starting from a number of basic concepts: a) bring the power to decide on everything that relates to the enviroment under public control (Green Public Work) describing how this might be financed and taking control and management away from the private sector; b) rebuilding the credibility of the EU by transforming the current complicated bureaucratic structure into a new identity capable of protecting the environment for the younger generations (EnU – Environmental Union); c) trying to establish a context of social justice, and thus of democracy and participation, which speaks to the least powerful, strengthening grassroots communities and inviting them to take part in decisionmaking for programmes and regulations.

If realized, this plan would allow concrete and swift action at the different levels of decisionmaking, from the global to the local. For example: to put the provisions of the SIP Forum’s draft law into practice, it would no longer be neccessary to wait until it becomes a national or European law. Local communities would be able to decide what to do and public bodies – using public money – would carry them out with the cooperation and oversight of the communities themselves.

We are not asserting that what the GNDE proposes is “pure gold”, on the contrary we find it a difficult, partial and contentious document. Its great merit, however, is that it opens wide breaches in the wall of non-communication that exists between the different actors concerned with the environment. It is therefore a necessary document, especially at this time when we are seeing a renewed understanding of the meaning of the words solidarity and participation.

This is why we ask you to contribute to the task of analysis and to send us your critiques and/or contributions, so that we can set off together on the path to building a Europe that is supportive, strong, inclusive and respectful of the enviromnent.


GNE– European Commission

The Commission’s GNE document has had the effect of “rallying the troops”. Analysis of the document has made it possible to draw up an appeal to the Commission President and all the EU Heads of State. It takes the form of an open letter that asks for funding of a new European pact for the climate and jobs.

Just as we pointed out in the previous section for the GNDE (which has the merit of also suggesting where funds can be found).

The following open letter was co-signed by more than 700 politicians, climatologists, economists, unionists, entrepreneurs, students, citizens and elected representatives at local, national and European level.

One million citizen of Europe signed the Open Letter in just 1 week, on the website Climateandjobs.eu, where the original version of this letter, as well as the sources of the different figures provided are also available. The objective is to reach at least 2 million.

Here is part of the text: Continua a leggere “GNDE (Civil Society) ≠ GNE (Commission European) – Vive la différence!: Suggestions for changing behaviour”


The EU machine has started to move

Lockdown has accelerated the preparation of the EC’s documents for the Green Deal for Europe. The picture is a complicated one, sometimes inspiring, frequently contradictory. We list below the documents that in our view are worth reading.

  1. Biodiversity EU Strategy for 2030, Contains a whole section on the soil and its importance. Prepares the ground for a specific soil directive by the end of 2021.
  2. From Farm to Fork, It tries to bring agreement between everyone, which is impossible, but it at least has the merit of indicating limits and precise objectives to be achieved by 2030.
  3. Analysis of links between CAP Reform and the Green Deal The whole thrust is to stress that the current proposed CAP is in line with the Green Deal. Pie in the sky, lies or ambiguity?
  4. European Climate Law To be dealt with in depth and in detail.
  5. Taxonomy: Final report of the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance Doorstop of around 700 pages, needed to understand the what and the how of financing the Green Deal.

Everyone understands that we can’t go back to the “normality” of the time before COVID-19. So we need to make sure we follow the discussions around these documents and others that will follow so that we can contribute to improve and redefine them. There is urgent need for a common commitment to involve everyone who has an interest in this in order to obtain a European framework for protecting the soil.  The SIP Forum must be actively engaged in this struggle.


In Loco Association (Portugal) “Prato Certo” project

Following our piece on Agroecopolis in Greece, one of our readers told us about a similar initiative in Portugal. Created in 1988, the IN LOCO Association is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the local development of territorial entities, in particular rural ones. It sees development as a process of continuing education and mutually supportive civic participation to meet current needs without compromising the future. This is achieved through initiatives that encourage, train and organize individuals and bodies in an integrated way and through learning by doing.

One of their educational projects is called Prato Certo which means roughly ‘healthy eating’.

Its aim is to raise understanding and awareness of the risk of food insecurity.

In the poorest areas of the country and during an economic crisis that inflicted drastic reductions in purchasing power on families and individuals, the Association decided to provide basic information to allow people to prepare healthy, balanced, delicious and economical food, at a cost of less than a euro per meal. Continua a leggere “In Loco Association (Portugal) “Prato Certo” project”


Soil Science after COVID-19 by Rattan Lal

Most of our readers will not be familiar with the name of Rattan Lal. He is an American soil scientist of Indian origin. His work focuses on the potential of soils to help resolve global issues such as climate change, food security and water quality.

He was awarded the 2019 Japan Prize ‘for the sustainable soil management for global food security and mitigation of climate change.’ On June 11, 2020, Professor Lal was named the recipient of the prestigious World Food Prize 2020.

His research diverged from the conventional 1970s soil fertility strategy of heavy reliance on commercial fertilizers. His research led a better understanding of how no-till farming, cover crops, crop residues, mulching, and agroforestry can restore degraded soils, increasing organic matter by sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil, and help combat rising carbon dioxide levels in the air.

It is important to understand Lal’s assessment of the current situation; he set it out in an article published in April, at the height of the pandemic, in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation with the title ‘Soil science beyond COVID-19’. While at first sight this article might seem to be aimed at specialists, it in fact contains statements that should be taken on board by everyone.

Starting from an analysis of the current situation and summarized by the sentence “The sudden collapse caused by COVID-19 indicates fragility of humanity even to a microscopic foe”, Lal addresses the causes of the pandemic and connects them together: the ecosystems have been altered by deforestation, in-field voluntary and intentional burning, excessive ploughing and inundation by irrigation, indiscriminate use of chemicals, inappropriate use of natural resources, and of course, addiction to fossil fuel.

Thus, a series of vicious cycles overlap, which are set in motion by ad-hoc deforestation, land misuse, and soil mismanagement.

soial and water© 2020 by the Soil and Water Conservation Society


The ever-growing need for more deforesta­tion leads to adverse effects on human wellbeing, health of the planet, and vicious pandemics. Continua a leggere “Soil Science after COVID-19 by Rattan Lal”


Bollettino n. 73


1.ESPERIENZE:  Percorsi didattici sul territorio in Veneto    


3.NOTIZIE SU SUOLO E ISTITUZIONI EUROPEE: La macchina europea si è messa in moto