Soil functions

The most important soil functions are to filtrate underground water, to hold and provide nutritious substances and water necessary for plant growth, to be a living source for different organisms and decomposing substances, to absorb, store and reflect the sun’s energy, and to provide the surface on which human beings and other animals exist.

Basis for biomass production
Filtering, buffering and transformation
Habitat and gene reserve
Foundation
Source of raw materials
Historical medium

Conflicts sometimes result when different functions compete for the soil. For centuries all soil functions were maintained without much difficulty. Problems arose at the beginning of the 20th century when increasing development disrupted the ecological functions of the soil.

Settlements and infrastructure expansion, industrial and transport development, waste dumping, mining for raw materials and intensive agriculture all exert pressure on the soil. Deterioration of soil characteristics usually occurs as a result of human activities, leading to the degradation of one or more soil functions.

There is a need to find a balance among all interests concerned and to harmonise soil use at the regional level in order to allow soil functions to take place concurrently and in a sustainable manner.

© The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe