Translating soil science into environmental policy: A case study on implementing the EU soil protection strategy in The Netherlands

J. Bouma, P. Droogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The EU Commission has proposed a way forward towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection based on the distinction of seven soil functions and eight threats. A Technical Working Group on Research defined some 200 general priority research areas in the context of the dynamic DPSIR approach considering drivers, pressures, states, impacts and responses. Though quite valuable as a source document, this may be too generic and academic to be a starting point for new, effective soil research in different regions of the EU. A six-step storyline procedure is therefore proposed aimed at deriving effective operational procedures for a water management unit in a given region, using available soil expertise and defining new research only where needed. The procedure, that was illustrated for a Dutch case study, consists of defining: (i) water management units (wmu's) in a landscape context; (ii) land-use, area hydrology and soil functions (iii) soil threats and relevant soil qualities; (iv) drivers of land-use change and their future impact; (v) improvement of relevant soil qualities; (vi) possibilities to institutionalize soil quality improvement as part of the EU soil protection strategy. A focus on regional wmu's is likely to result in a strong commitment of local stakeholders and governmental officials, allowing a more specific DPSIR approach. But this will only work if local officials also receive legal powers to develop and enforce codified `good practices¿, to be developed in the context of communities of practice. Innovative research topics can be derived from a combined analysis of experiences within different communities of practice in different wmu's and should not be left to researchers to define.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-463
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • land quality indicators
  • use history
  • management
  • models
  • world


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