Balancing competing land-use demands whilst securing access to natural resources and maintaining or restoring ecosystem services requires knowledge of the human-environment system including soil, what is on and in it, trends in land condition and management along with how all of these respond to changing environmental, societal and economic conditions. - The Land Resources Management (LRM) Unit provides such information.
LRM’s research informs EU environment and development policymaking concerning soils, desertification, ecological restoration and biological diversity and development-aid programming. The unit’s research also helps the EC to meet obligations from Multilateral Environmental Agreements, especially the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Unit pays particular attention to the EU and its neighbours plus EU development-assistance priority regions, especially the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific). The Unit also works closely with UN agencies related to sustainable land resource management, in particular FAO and UNEP.
The Europe 2020 flagship initiative on “a Resource-efficient Europe” plus its associated Roadmap and Staff Working Papers provide a framework for the LRM’s work. The tenet underpinning these documents is that economic wellbeing requires efficient use of resources yet globally resource use is increasing – and therefore access is likely to be increasingly insecure, increasingly costly and ultimately unsustainable. Avoiding “a mismatch between the use and regenerative capacity of natural systems” (SEC 2011 1067) is thus a very real challenge for Europe. To address this challenge the LRM Unit follows two research lines; one deals with studying, documenting and measuring the condition of natural systems and the factors driving change, the other deals with the development of information systems connecting information elements and making results as widely available as possible.
LRM measures, monitors and maps variables including soil type, soil carbon content, soil moisture content, soil functions and related threats, desertification trends, protected area status, land cover and cover change. Our information systems include the Africa Caribbean and Pacific Observatory, the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas, the Observatory for the Forests of Central Africa, the Desertification Early Warning System and the soil information systems operated within the European Soil Data Centre.
The Unit’s research involves geospatial and remote sensing science combined with models to characterize the state and evolution of selected terrestrial systems. To achieve this we use our long-standing relations with various national and international Space Agencies, the UN plus other international bodies including EEA and GEO and Member States’ research centres in addition to the EC policy directorates general and EU Delegations. The Unit provides the operation of the European Soil Data Centre in the framework of the ‘Group of Four’ agreement with DG ENV, ESTAT and EEA and the co-ordination of Space and Copernicus (formerly GMES) activities for the JRC. LRM is responsible for three Institutional actions and projects linked to these, which are externally funded
Action 22004 - SOIL (Soil Data and Information Systems), through the European Soil Data Centre, provides the Commission with a single focal point for soil data and information, and supports other Commission services in negotiations within the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection.
Action 42001 - MONDE (Monitoring Natural Resources for Development Cooperation) provides tools for the monitoring of ecosystems and agrosystems and contributes to the understanding of the interactions between development, environment, and security issues. It also includes the ACP Observatory, a JRC initiative in support of development policies and programmes of the EC, its Member States and the beneficiary countries on natural resources, food security, crisis management and renewable energies.
Alan S. Belward - Tel.: +39-0332-789298 E-mail: alan.belward(at)jrc.ec.europa.eu
Susanne Fortunato - Tel.: +39-0332-789755 E-mail: susanne.fortunato(at)ec.europa.eu