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The impacts of climate change on soil functions - SP0538

The policy drivers for the project are as follows:

1. The focus of First Soil Action Plan for England considers that soil supports and/or influences all our ecosystems. The Action Plan identifies a number of functions of soil: a platform for development; protection of cultural heritage; a growing medium for food and fibre; environmental services (including water storage and buffering of pollutants); a source of raw materials; and a reservoir of biodiversity. The Action Plan draws this together in Action 30: `The UK Climate Change I?mpacts Programme (UKCIP) and should establish in 2004 a scoping study of the impacts of climate change on English soils. This should cover non-agricultural, as well as agricultural soils and identify vulnerable soil types`.

2. Future-proofing (and climate-proofing) soils should be considered in developing Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions requirements under cross compliance, particularly as part of future soil management planning, and for maximising opportunities for climate change adaptation.

3. The Rural Climate Change Panel (RCCP) needs to show some progress on mitigating impacts to ministers and stakeholders, including those impacts on soils.

The consortium will undertake the research tasks as set out in the description of research, by reviewing published and unpublished studies on the role of climatic variables on soil properties and the effects of climate change on soil functions, including agriculture, forestry and the built environment, both from UK and relevant overseas research.

The scoping study will be used to inform the debate on the effects of climate change on soil functions in relation to goods and services expected of them in England and Wales. The study will clarify the kind of further research necessary for Defra and partners to commission in order to develop tools and guidance to manage the risks to soils from climate change.
1. Collate results from previous research on the impacts of climate change (using UKCIP scenarios) and or other relevant environmental changes on soils and soil functions, including taking into account the biological component of the soil.

2. Make use of wide stakeholder consultation.

3. Scope the impacts and risks of climate change.

4. Identify potential risk management practices (including non-agricultural land-management practices)

5. Identify practical measures that land managers might consider to climate-proof soils in the later stages of soil management plans for agriculture, but will also examine other implications of climate change for management of the various land types (agriculture, forestry, built environments, disturbed environments).

6. Identify suitable soil reference sites, including those where different vulnerabilities are evident now.

7. Identify knowledge and/or research gaps and prioritise these in terms of policy and stakeholder needs.

8. Collate and identify the ways forward and those preferred by stakeholders.
Project Documents
• Final Report : The impacts of climate change on soil functions   (342k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impacts of climate change on soil functions   (178k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2005

Cost: £29,981
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Cranfield
Climate and Weather              
Climate Change              
Environmental Protection              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Soil Protection