JNCC soil conservation seminar at Reading University

Soil formation takes a long time, operating at near-geological time scales, but soil structure and function can be lost overnight. Recognition of the need to protect soils has also taken a long time, with the nature conservation value of soils (for example, their function in supporting habitats) still not fully recognised.


However, policy on soil conservation, including nature conservation issues, is now moving with Exclosed areas on Pennines Moor House NNR © English Naturesurprising speed. Driven by a developing EU soil strategy, Wales has been quick to respond with a soils strategy in development (led by the Welsh Assembly) and England with a soils action plan via Defra. Development of soil action plans and strategies has been recognised from the start as involving a range of cross-cutting issues and the conservation agencies have been swift to respond in their own right and through the Scottish Natural Heritage-led Soils Lead Co-ordination Network.
Contributing to this policy development is essential, but so is working to establish effective relationships with a wide range of interest groups involved in soils science. Traditionally, agricultural issues, along with erosion and contamination, have led the debate to the exclusion of the wider environmental role of soils, including that of habitat support and ecosystem functions. As part of its strategy to change this perception, JNCC is co-hosting a conference at Reading University in December that will look at a range of cross-cutting soil issues that have nature conservation relevance.
Bringing together conservation officers and soil scientists, government advisors and academics, the Reading seminar is designed to raise awareness of the nature conservation significance of soils, advertise the conservation agency work in this area and establish links to other working scientists. With presentations covering such topics as 'Soilscapes and Ecoscapes', 'Ecological Restoration and Soil Systems', 'Soil monitoring in the context of nature conservation' and many others, the event will give a good overview of the practical application of soil science for nature conservation.
Following the conference, details will be available

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