Soil use is becoming increasingly intensive. From use for agriculture and housing construction to recreation and infrastructure. At the same time, we also depend on the soil-watersystem for a healthy living environment, restore biodiversity, countering climate change, energy transition, absorption of rainwater and keeping groundwater clean. This will require carefully considered soil use and sustainable soil management policies. After all, the soil is unable to perform all functions simultaneously or in the same place.
In this report, RIVM describes the building blocks of that future-proof strategy.
New soil policy sees soil as a living ecosystem
For a long time, Dutch soil policy focused mainly on soil protection and remediation of soil contamination. But keeping soil clean is only one side of the story. We also need our soil to be healthy and to continue performing the vital functions that sustain the quality of our living environment.
Policy and implementation thus have to be based on the whole soil-watersystem. This means looking more broadly at factors affecting soil and water quality, including threats such as soil covering, overfertilisation, contamination and depletion.
Focus on opportunities and benefits of healthy soil
Meanwhile, it is equally important to think in terms of the opportunities and benefits healthy soil offers. Healthy soil is fertile, helps store CO2, supports a healthy environment and is essential for our drinking water supply. With this as a focus, we can zoom in on soil's various interlocking functions. For example, on agriculture and rural areas, climate and water, urban environment and mobility, and raw materials and energy. This broad vision on soil also demands cooperation of all stakeholders in order to facilitate sustainable spatial development and soil management in the Netherlands.
Other RIVM studies on environmental and soil quality
This RIVM study on a new soil policy vision is part of its wider research into environmental quality in general and soil quality in particular. In the summer of 2022, RIVM published an overview of the state of scientific knowledge about the quality of our living environment (National Environmental Programme, NMP), which concluded that it is under pressure on all fronts. RIVM also published studies on the effects of drug waste on soil and groundwater and about risks and opportunities with regard to reusing construction materials and other materials.