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Urban Soil Management Strategy (URBAN-SMS)
Start date: Sep 30, 2008, End date: Mar 30, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Central Europe is characterised by a relatively high population density. In some of the countries a quarter of the total national population lives in the capital agglomeration, in the other countries urban networks of larger towns exist. These urban areas have a high economic potential, but they are facing a concentration of environmental, social and economic problems often triggered by increasing suburbanisation. Suburbanisation causes significant land consumption and soil sealing. As a natural resource, soil fulfils important ecological functions as well as provides essential services like water filtering and storage, biomass and food production, source of raw material, living space for humans, plants and animals. Therefore the management of this resource has a strong influence on the preservation of nature, but also on the socio-economic development. In particular the flood plains in the area are under high pressure of urbanisation.Land use changes and loss of soil functions impairing environmental quality in urban areas are among environmental risks which are yet not adequately addressed. In most cities across Central Europe there is a considerable amount of data available on soil quality and its different functions. However, to date there is no common urban planning strategy addressing the need for the protection of soil habitat as a critical element controlling urban ecosystem functions. Massive scale consumption of valuable soils by urban fabric leads to the dramatic loss of biodiversity, retention and buffering functions and overall quality of life of urban population. There is an urgent need to develop an urban soil management system accompanied by decision support tools for scenario analysis and assessment of impacts of different planning options on soils. Today there is still very little public awareness of soil issues as a key element of urban ecosystem.Missing awareness due to a low degree of knowledge about the functional role of soils has been identified as main reason for the lacking consideration of soil related aspects in urban planning so far. Therefore raising public as well as political awareness and creating acceptance is a key issue throughout the whole duration of the project. This will be reached by visualisation of the consequences and future problems created by not considering soil related aspects in urban planning process. Overall the project is focusing on the optimisation of land use in urban areas by preserving the natural assets of the resource soil without hindering economic development. Achievements: URBAN SMS strived to develop a comprehensive soil management strategy for municipalities to consider the value of soils and their different functions within the urban planning process. To reach this, the project was based on four key elements, each supported by one core output. First the Municipal soil manager acts as frame on which organizational level soil management should be included in urban planning procedure and gives options how goals, strategies and tools may interact. During project lifetime a range of contributing materials were produced, e.g.: Summary of needs and approaches for soil management within urban planning procedures, a guide on how to implement the issue of soil protection in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as well in the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was elaborated. The materials were produced by project partners with consultation of stakeholders to meet especially the needs of practitioners. Second key element of the project are technical tools for including soil aspects in urban planning. A software suite was developed consisting of a desktop and a web solution each containing 8 different soil evaluation tools. The software is free available and elaborative handbooks introduce the user to the content of the tools, explain data requirements and give technical support for installation and run. However the test in the partner pilot areas have shown that an adaption to the local conditions is needed in any case to gain authoritative results which are convincing and therefore accepted by decision makers. Third key element is the test and implementation of the tools developed. All tools were tested in at least one partners pilot area. The results were collected and some of the tools were improved according to the findings from practical application. A detailed description of test sites, test implementation and results is documented in the case study book. Last key element is raising the awareness of all stakeholders as well as to general public to the importance of soil in urban areas. Materials promoting this issue were produced and collected in an Awareness raising package. The materials can be categorized in (1) materials on soil role and soil management trends, including a movie which had his premiere during the final conference, (2) extended reports on consequences of soil sealing and (3) guides on available methods and approaches for better soil management. The working group laid special emphasis to directly get in contact with the stakeholders. This was realized by series of stakeholder workshops which was carried out in a new format which is also documented in the awareness raising package. To give an overview of the work done and results reached within the project the consortium produced a brochure in all partner languages which guides the reader through the most important findings and give links where to find more detailed information. (brochure and other products available at project webpage)
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  • 79.2%   1 741 390,30
  • 2007 - 2013 Central Europe
  • Project on KEEP Platform
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