The growing global population has to deal with the increasingly urgent issues of food security, floods and droughts, and pollution, which threatens agricultural productivity and the environment. The answer to address these critical issues is the protection of soil quality.
In order to take measures for the prevention and restoration of soil quality in the entire territory of Europe, the European Union is funding the research programme RECARE which is to last five years.
The Cyprus Institute, in collaboration with other researchers from 27 different organisations, will exchange information on existing data and approaches to address the major threats to soil. The interdisciplinary project team RECARE will evaluate existing soil threats and propose innovative solutions to prevent further deterioration in Europe.
The research in Cyprus focuses on erosion created at steep mountainous terrains of Troodos.
Due to the depopulation of rural mountain communities and the high cost of production, many terraces are not cultivated and no longer maintained. This sometimes leads to a domino effect collapse of terraces. The uncontrolled growth of vegetation also makes the land susceptible to forest fires which could lead to further degradation. The research group of the Cyprus Institute aims to engage a wide range of stakeholders to develop sustainable options and institutions for the management of upland terraces.
Soil is vital for food production and for filtering the water consumed by people and plants.
Additionally, soil recycles and stores nutrients which are essential for sustaining life. At the same time, it helps to hold water by reducing the pressures of drought and flooding and helps to mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.
Because of increasing human intervention and unsustainable management, soils are threatened by erosion, compaction, desertification, contamination and loss of organic matter and biodiversity. It is therefore necessary to protect it in order to ensure that multiple beneficial functions and services will not be lost or reduced.