LIFE Soil Platform addresses soil conservation and management in the Basque Country and Navarre


Experts and stakeholders from 50 European projects gather for two days to share knowledge and innovative results and promote environmental policies at the event organised by LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 and LIFE-IP NAdapta-CC.

A European project networking event was held on 10-11 April to share knowledge and innovative results and to promote environmental policies. The event, organised by LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 and LIFE-IP NAdapta-CC projects, in collaboration with CINEA (European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency) was attended by approximately 50 European projects including LIFE DESERT-ADAPT, LIFE CO2SAND and LIFE FRAC-IN.

The main aim of this meeting was to promote networking, feedback and policy input with stakeholders involved in projects funded by the LIFE programme addressing crucial soil issues. Over two busy days, three main soil-related topics were covered: conservation and adaptation, contamination and bioremediation, and management and mitigation.

The sessions also included discussions on horizontal topics such as soil health monitoring, climate change, promotion of soil literacy and economic opportunities. Participants had the opportunity to share their professional experience, challenges and best practices for implementing the EU Soil Strategy and the upcoming Soil Directive.

Technical sessions

The first part of the conference took place in Palacio Baluarte in Pamplona (Navarre) where, after the welcoming speeches by CINEA (European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency) and representatives of the organising projects, representatives of the European Commission presented the latest news on EU regulations on soil monitoring and resilience, the framework for the certification of carbon sequestration, and the living labs that are being developed.

The second block included thematic interventions on soil health by European and local stakeholders. The Government of Navarre opened the session with a presentation on the Navarre Climate Strategy and Integrated Land Management. The Basque Country then described the 2030 Land Protection Strategy, its progress and its connection with the LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050, coordinated by Ihobe.

Xurxo Veira spoke on behalf of AEI-Agri (European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural productivity and Sustainability) on soil monitoring and resilience; and Panos Panagos, from the EU Soil Observatory, closed the session with an analysis of the role of this entity supporting European policies.

The second part of the conference included the presentation of various LIFE projects on soil: LIFE DESER ADAPT, which aims to prepare desertification areas for climate change; LIFE COS2AND, which works to increase agricultural land drought resilience; and LIFE FRAC-IN, which enables soil remediation on low-permeability sites through hydraulic/pneumatic fracturing.

The day ended with various working groups discussing topics such as soil management and sustainable agriculture, soil contamination, bioremediation and circular economy, soil conservation and carbon sequestration.

Field visits in Navarre and the Basque Country

On the second day, there were field visits to intervention areas to improve soil quality, organised by the LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 and LIFE-IP NAdapta-CC projects. Participants were shown specific examples of innovative practices, from the management of vulnerable agricultural soils to the remediation of contaminated soils.

The route began in the Navarre town of Oloriz, where they visited soil resilience trials based on the use of organic fertilisers and soil management strategies belonging to the LIFE-IP NAdapta-CC project.

The group then travelled to the town of Asparrena in Alava, where they visited an old industrial heritage site located next to the Aizkorri-Aratz Nature Reserve and Natura 2000 area. This experience recognised the efforts of a town with a population of around 1,600, which, in collaboration with the Basque Government and Ihobe, has taken on the responsibility for a procedure for declaring the quality of the land and the management of industrial ruins.

Finally, the participants visited the Mendebaldea project in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Álava), which involved renaturing the area around the Jundiz industrial estate, where several projects have been carried out to recover degraded peri-urban soil using experimental phytoremediation techniques. The recovery process, which has been completed with phase V (partially funded by LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050), included actions to improve the quality of the soil and plant vegetation to form a large green corridor, crossed by a network of paths that connect the industrial estate with nature and rural areas surrounding the estate.

The closing of the conference and the presentation of the conclusions took place at Alava Technology Park.