Assessing the socio-economic impacts of soil degradation on Scotland’s water environment

Project Details


Background: Soil degradation has impacts on both water quality and quantity, affecting a wide range of land-based industries including food and timber production, GHG emissions, and biodiversity. Options to mitigate potential impacts of soil degradation includes investments in agricultural and ecosystem services payments, flood management, peatland restoration, and sustainable soil management, among others. Understanding the extent, spatial distribution, drivers and socio-economic costs of soil degradation and its impacts on waters will provide a basis for prioritising and targeting investments to protect soils, mitigating detrimental impacts on soils to the wider environment, especially water.

Aim: Building on existing work in Scotland and the UK, and together with the project steering group, the aim of the project is to develop a methodological framework to assess the socio-economic and environmental impacts of soil degradation to land-based businesses, the wider off-site impacts on Scotland’s water environment, and to ecosystem services provided by soils to society and the Scottish economy. A key aspect of the work will also be to identify knowledge and evidence gaps. The process of method development will include appraisal of data needs, utility of existing data, and requirements for method validation.

The project team brings together a multidisciplinary team with expertise from in soil physics, hydrology, soil biology and soil contamination. It also includes expertise in peatland degradation and biophysical resource analyses, spatial analysis and modelling, and economic evaluation and cost analyses of ecosystem services,. as well as a wider understanding of soil processes and threats to soil health and functioning.
Effective start/end date1/01/2424/02/24


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