A sustainable use of our soil resources needs to be balanced against the capacity of soil to provide the required services over space and time in the future. Adrienne GrĂȘt-Regamey and her team are developing a 3D virtual platform with which the various parties can develop joint strategies to achieve sustainable soil use. The effectiveness of new instruments is tested in the platform, thus flowing directly into the formulation of recommendations for sustainable soil use.

Lay summary

Soil provides humankind with a range of crucial goods and services such as nutrients, drinking water and raw materials, both as a production basis for agriculture and forestry and as habitat for organisms. It provides protection from flooding and regulates the climate. Soil sealing is just one of the uses that harm these functions, thereby preventing the soil to provide important economic services in the long term.

The aim of this project is to develop a decision support platform for sustainable soil use. An interactive platform links spatial information of soil properties and soil functionalities with economic, ecological and social effects of various soil uses and visualises the results in a 3D virtual environment. The platform users can thereby assess the effects of various soil uses on soil properties and functionalities in real-time. By way of a participative and iterative learning process, stakeholders can determine sustainable soil use strategies. In two case studies, the development of innovative, institutional and fiscal policy instruments are being examined.

In addition to a 3D decision support platform, based on the soil data of the soil information system NABODAT, the project will advance understanding of the societal, economic and political conditions linked to individual and collective decision-making processes supporting the required land use transformation for meeting future demands for soil uses. The generic linkage of soil property maps with soil functions and 3D visualisations of soil uses will enable implementing the system in other areas for generalizing acquired knowledge and in doing so supporting the development of sustainable soil use strategies.