The core Alpine area is subject to specific challenges such as a very limited permanent settlement area, with highly productive soils, combined with an increasing demand for space for traffic, housing, economy and leisure. This is implicating land-take and often soil sealing leading to loss of those soils and considerable pressure on sensitive ecosystems etc. Those challenges affect not only one Alpine state – they are cross border issues and a common urgency. Alpine wide guidelines for minimised land-take and sealing shall be a corner stone to overcome these challenges.
No more additional (net) land-take, land-sealing and strengthened approaches of brown field re-development by 2050– these are three key elements for the protection of soils and their ecosystem services with respect to climate mitigation and adaptation. Soils can be destroyed easily, but it takes a very long time to regenerate soil, if it is possible at all. This applies especially to high altitude areas, where soil development processes are taking place even slower. The transition towards climate-neutral and climate-resilient Alps requires an Alpine wide understanding of the importance of minimised land-take and sealing and redevelopment of brownfields.
Reach common understanding in Alpine countries about the economical use of soil and the reduction of land use and therefore develop an Alpine wide definition and shared understanding of monitoring of land-take and land-sealing.
Compile, make use of and spread the data collection of soil quality and soil function (pathway IP_S1: Preservation and sequestration of carbon in soil with a focus on peatlands, moorlands and wetlands) and consider information on soil quality and function for spatial planning decisions.
Empower the discipline of spatial planning and involving the spatial planning sector in decisions regarding land-take and sealing in all Alpine countries. A key elements are to foster communication about the importance of spatial planning as tool for soil protection and that also data of soil quality and functions should be considered in spatial planning.
Alpine wide recommendations for an economic incentive system (e.g., tradeable land planning permits, subsidies for land unsealing) which include both net new land-take (e.g., for new infrastructures) but also land regeneration shall be made. These recommendations shall be made on the basis of a review of existing economic incentive systems for land-take in the Alpine countries and beyond.
Stakeholders at the municipal level play a key role when it comes to the implementation of guidelines for land use plans. Workshops and Information events shall be organized in the perimeter of the Alpine Convention.
Alpine soils are highly vulnerable to climate change and at the same time face pressures from land- use, land-take and soil sealing. Soil also has an important role for climate mitigation: It is an important carbon pool. The preservation of soil is crucial, because only healthy soils can store the carbon. All these facts provide a clear and comprehensive view: The preservation of Alpine soils is crucial. Only healthy soils can store carbon and the Alpine area includes many specifically carbon-rich soil types like peatland, moorland or wetland areas. Both quality and quantity of these soils need to be protected by reducing pressures on Alpine soils originating from increasing demand for space for traffic, housing, economy and leisure and at the same time from agricultural and forestry practices which are a threat to soil preservation.
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