Panel of Experts on Soil Protection


Soil is, among other definitions, the end product of the combined influence of geological processes, climate and organisms (flora, fauna and human) on parent geology over time. Soil is increasingly recognized as a vital and finite asset, playing a fundamental role in supporting the availability and quality of human basic resources such as food and water, which encompasses social and economic welfare. Soil is the basis of our forests and crops, which provide a variety of fibres, fuels, genetic resources, medicinal products and energy. It also provides regulating services such as pollution control, rainwater distribution and erosion control, and is capable of acting both as a source and sink of carbon.

In terms of perception of likelihood and impact, soil degradation is among the most pressing environmental challenges facing us, together with other environmental risks such as biodiversity loss and man-made environmental disasters. Soil degradation is also connected to societal risks like food crises and large-scale involuntary migration. Protection and management of this resource are embedded at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015.

It is the panel mission to observe this so surprisingly huge range of topics and provide added value by linking technical and scientific knowledge with communication and outreach for coherence in European policymaking on soil protection.

The Global Risks Landscape 2019 (Available at: Degrading environment trend. Deterioration in the quality of air, soil and water from ambient concentrations of pollutants and other activities and processes. Risks most strongly driven by this trend: Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, Water crises, Man-made environmental disasters.


  • To provide a core of expertise within EFG that relates to soils and soil protection.
  • To observe changes in policy and regulation that affect soils at a European level, and to respond with advice when appropriate opportunities arise.
  • To develop a common European platform of geological understanding with regard to the soils (reference terms, methodology, data analysis, statistics)

Our experts

Gabriele Ponzoni

Gabriele Ponzoni


Robrecht Schmitz (Belgium), Ajka Šorša (Croatia), Pavlos Tyrologou (Greece), Basile Christaras (Greece), Endre Dobos (Hungary), Péter Sipos (Hungary), Győző Jordán (Hungary), Luciano Fabio Torre (Italy), Zoran Nikić (Serbia), Mateja Gosar (Slovenia), Cristina Roel Alfonso (Spain), María J. Rubial (Spain), Pablo Irizar (Spain), Sergio Navarro Alonso (Spain), Malcolm Doak (UK), Maria João Sacadura (Portugal)

Our current activity

The Panel of Experts on Soils uses a thorough understanding of the technical and scientific matters that relate to soil protection on a range of scales to be in a position where it can inform policy, and assist policymakers in drafting or modifying appropriate regulation. EFG has a liaison with the CEN, European Committee for Standardization, Technical Committee on Characterization of Soils, TC345, since September 2010.

Activities we developed

EFG endorses Mission Soil Manifesto

In spring 2023, the European Commission and the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) launched the Mission Soil Manifesto which supports the implementation of the EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’.

The Manifesto aims to gather regional and local policy-makers, as well as all interested stakeholders and citizens into a dynamic community engaged around the topic of soil health.

As a signatory of the Manifesto, EFG commits in particular to:

    • Advance soil-related research and/or innovation (management, technologic, product, social innovation
    • Promote or take part in the co-creation of solutions, in particular through work in living labs and/or lighthouses
    • Raise awareness on the importance of soil, enhance training, education and advise and enlarge the community that is taking care of this resource through outreach
    • Promote soil protection and restoration through policy-making and programming of funds.
    • Support the deployment of practices for sustainable land management

Read more:

European Geologist 52: Soil - our endangered food base

The full issue is also available for online reading at the following link.


Contribution to FAO report “Global assessment of soil pollution”

On 4 June 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations released its “Global assessment of soil pollution” which addresses the extent and future trends of soil pollution and describes the risks and impacts of soil pollution on health, the environment and food security.

Over the last three years, EFG has actively supported the preparation of this state-of-the-art report through the involvement of its External Relations Officer, Dr Pavlos Tyrologou, a member of the EFG board and the Panel of Experts on Soil Protection.

The process to develop the report involved in-depth regional assessments of soil pollution, and the regional chapters provide an overview of soil pollution issues at a global scale. The Editorial Board comprised more than 30 international experts. In this context, EFG co-authored chapter 13 of the report and participated in the external reviewers’ team.

The report can be accessed at

Further resources are available here.



Other resources we invite you to consult

International Year of Soils (IYS) 2015:


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