Earth Observation & Protection Presentation Series powered by the Operational Unit BEYOND of IAASARS/NOA focused on

 “A Soil Deal for Europe: Showcasing the SOILGUARD and SOLO projects”

Thuesday, 11 June 2024


BEYOND research team, Nikolaos Stathopoulos and Melpomeni Zoka showcased successfully their work on the SOILGUARD and Soils for Europe (SOLO) projects, during Earth Observation & Protection Presentation Series powered by Operational Unit BEYOND of IAASARS/NOA, on Tuesday, 11 June 2024. 

Dr. Haris Kontoes, Research Director of NOA and Scientific Director of the Operational Unit BEYOND of IAASARS/NOA welcomed the participants with a short opening remark, introducing to the audience the special guests of the meeting, Professor Prodromos Zanis from the Department of Meteorology and Climatology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Professor Salvador Llado form the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics of the University of Barcelona.

Professor Prodromos Zanis showcased the Climate projections for the purposes of the SOILGUARD project and Professor Salvador Llado as a special guest underlined the importance of the projects, SOILGUARD and SOLO for advancing soil science and fostering sustainable land management across Europe.

In particular, SOILGUARD is a Horizon 2020 project that envisages a future where the conservation of soil biodiversity and the environmental, economic, and social well-being of EU biogeographical regions is guaranteed. For that purpose, 26 partners from 17 countries (14 European and 3 International) have worked together for the last 3 years. 

BEYOND's research team shared its work with the 33 participants of the workshop, on contributing to this effort by assessing land degradation gradients and landscape features. This achievement supported the establishment of the sampling design, a crucial step for initiating the project. Moreover, it supports our understanding of how land degradation affects soil biodiversity and their efficacy in delivering soil-mediated ecosystem services. The assessed landscape features provide complementary information to enhance our understanding of how soil biodiversity affects soil ecosystem services and in which way.

BEYOND research team also discussed with the participants its endeavors in disseminating the SOILGUARD project in conferences, capacity-building workshops, etc.  The significant work in collaboration with Prof. Prodromos Zanis' team from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was presented showcasing the climatic projections in the investigated regions of the project. This task, presented by Prodromos Zanis during the meeting, focuses on increasing our understanding of the effect of combined climate stressors (drought and heat waves) on soil biodiversity, highlighting the potential of soil biodiversity as a nature-based solution.

Regarding the Soils for Europe (SOLO) project, it will support the Soil Mission by co-developing an R&I Roadmap with multiple and diverse stakeholders around Europe. This R&I Roadmap will showcase the next research and funding steps for the Soil Mission.  In addition, the SOLO project will create the Agenda of the Mission and will monitor its implementation.  BEYOND research team highlighted its contribution in regard to the Land Degradation and Soil Erosion Think Tanks.

Specifically, BEYOND’s role lies in leading the Land Degradation Think Tank and Co-leading the Soil Erosion Think Tank. The Think Tanks function as vital components within the framework of the Soils for Europe initiative, playing a pivotal role in co-developing the European Union Mission known as a Soil Deal for Europe. The BEYOND research team is working on achieving this by engaging various and diverse stakeholders around Europe, organizing soil events and participating in several dissemination activities, by co-developing the R&I Roadmaps of the Think Tanks that they are working on, aligned with the Soil Mission Specific Objectives. The latter is achieved by acquiring expert knowledge from the stakeholders and extensive literature research regarding the knowledge gaps, activities, drivers and bottlenecks associated with the Think Tank's mission objective.