Declaration emphasising the health of soils gains widespread support

Press release 2015-12-04 at 15:50
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Press release of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. The aim of IYS 2015 is to raise awareness about the profound importance of soil for human life and to increase people's understanding of soil, its functions and the ecosystem services it offers.

In Finland, the International Year of Soils culminated today with the Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen receiving the Declaration of the International Year of Soils. Soil is easily forgotten and just left below the surface, even though healthy soil guarantees sustainable food production, a pure environment and a secure future for us all. Caring for healthy and functioning soils and transferring these to future generations is a common mission for the entire human race.

Soils host a quarter of our planet's total biological diversity, and 95% of the food consumed on Earth is produced in soils. In the carbon cycle, soils serve as a major carbon reservoir, but they also produce greenhouse gas emissions, often as a result of human activity. Furthermore, soil stores and filters water for the needs of plants and humans and protects against floods and drought.

The Declaration of the International Year of Soils was signed by ministries, research and expert organisations, universities, interest groups, environmental organisations as well as associations and organisations specialising in soils. According to the declaration, soil must be duly taken into consideration in research and decision-making on the national, European and international levels. Furthermore, enough teaching on soil-related matters needs to be provided already at schools.

The international World Soil Day is celebrated annually on 5 December. World Soil Day is coordinated by the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

In Finland, the importance of soil has also been highlighted in the Government Programme with the impending launch of a pilot programme for restoring contaminated soil. The aim of the programme is to facilitate the development and implementation of sustainable risk management methods. The programme's first pilot projects will be carried out next year.

More information:

Environment Counsellor Anna-Maija Pajukallio, Chairperson of the Year of Soils planning group, tel. +358 (0)295 250 218,

Senior Adviser Jaana Kaipainen, tel. +358 (0)295 162270,