Supporting measures to preserve and enhance Alpine soil quality

Basic information:

Soil is a finite, non-renewable and endangered natural resource. Especially Alpine soils are highly vulnerable – they are strongly affected by threats related to climate change, land use change etc. Preserving and enhancing Alpine soil quality is a key challenge of soil protection in the Alpine area.

Soils are multifold biotopes; among other functions soils can help to protect the climate through carbon sequestration. The Alpine Conference decided to take upon action in the field of soil protection to reach the following goals by 2050: “There is no more additional (net) land-take and land-sealing. Brown field re-development approaches have been strengthened to protect Alpine-specific soils and their services.” (XV Alpine Conference 2019)

Use land in a way appropriate for the soil functions and protect highly functional soils – this is a key factor for enhancing soil quality. In the following 3 steps measures to enhance Alpine soil quality shall be implemented.

Sequence of implementation steps:

Collect information on status-quo of soil quality (as defined in IP_S1, Step 1a) for the Alpine area is a first step that is directly followed by a hot-spot analysis of very productive soils and soils that have a high impact on mitigation. This data collection on the quality of Alpine soils shall be updated regularly to become a monitoring system on Alpine soils.

Soil functioning maps shall be developed to communicate the importance of preserving productive and especially valuable soils. This step is guided by the aim of appropriate land use for each type of soil.

Management recommendations specifically for the Alps intended to protect soils and enhance soil carbon and soil biodiversity shall be formulated. A special focus should be on wetlands, peatland, (riparian) forests, adaptation (e.g., water storage) and good agricultural practice in the sense of climate resilience (e.g., tilling of grassland). To reach this goal, the linking and improving of soil management strategies and approaches is foreseen. Those recommendations shall include agricultural practices to build up humus/soil organic matter.

Further Information:

  • Working Group on Soil Protection of the Alpine Convention
  • Stakeholders of the Alpine Soil Partnership/Links4Soils
  • Agents for Soil protection on the international, national, regional and local level
  • Decision makers at international, national, local and regional level
  • Alpine Research Centres
  • JRC (Joint Research Centre) of the European Commission
  • Scientific community (e.g., University Innsbruck, Boku Vienna)
  • Alliances of farmers and land managers
  • Network of mountain pasture farmers
  • Managers of mountain forests
  • Stakeholder, who work in the field of hazard management
  • (Spatial planners)
  • Alpine wide definition and data collection on soil quality
  • Analysis of hot spots of productive and especially valuable soils with soil function maps
  • Management recommendations for valuable soil types
  • Alpine wide definition and data collection on soil quality and hot-spot analysis with soil function maps (y/n)
  • Management recommendations for valuable soil types (y/n)
  • Links4Soils (Stock taking No 77) and Alpine Soil Partnership with the Alpine Soil Platform (database)
  • ALPENHUMUS (German initiative that aimed at detecting effects of current climate change on C-storage in humus layers in the Alps; Stock taking No 87)
  • In depth revision on the topic “Economical use of soil” of the Compliance Committee of the Alpine Convention
  • Activities of EUSALP AG6 (declaration on “Sustainable Land Use and Soil Protection, ”toolbox “less land-take”, new work programme in 2020)
  • LUCAS (
  • H2020 project LANDMARK (
  • ACRP Project CASAS (Carbon sequestration in Austrian soils)
  • Impuls4Action (“From intelligent Landuse to sustainable municipalities”, cross national project of Alpine states)
  • Working Group on Soil Protection of the Alpine Convention
  • Agri-environmental programmes in the Alpine countries (e.g., ÖPUL in Austria)
  • 4 per 1000 Initiative (




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.