On the eve of the 21st century it has become evident that soils – (considered) as fundamental and determinant environmental elements of terrestrial ecosystems – are exposed to increasing human utilisation, which is endangering several soil functions and may potentially lead to irreversible soil destruction. Therefore the elaboration of long-term soil protection strategies as well as the development of the necessary tools for a countrywide protection independent from land use and integrated into the policies of the different sectors have become an essential future task in the realization of a sustainable soil utilisation.
Soil as a resource is limited that cannot form absolute property without interfering in public benefit and interests. The effectiveness of produce and capital recovery – through property policy - must not be the exclusive determinants for land use. Soil must not become the subject of property speculations and well-grounded public concerns connected to this problem have to be investigated and interpreted. If the attainable profit is to determine changing tendencies in connection with property it may have catastrophic consequences on the non-importable public goods of in situ formation, on the living space and biotop functions of soil, as well as on our built and living environment, landscape and local communities.
Soils are the main natural resources of Hungary and at the same time carrier of its social and cultural values. The endangering of the status (resources and quality) of soils and the damaging of the natural and cultural values connected to them is an infringement upon the rights of future generations.
The above-mentioned reasons have made the overall protection of soil as an environmental element inevitable, which is also emphasized by the increasing number of soil-political proclamations, recommendations and conventions both in Hungary and internationally. However, in order to implement the long-term strategy of soil conservation we have to take into consideration the uniform protection and sustainable use of environmental resources, therefore we should endeavour continuous harmonization with the strategic tasks related to other environmental elements and enable co-operation.
The aim of this publication is to support the above-mentioned tasks by giving an overview on the main achievements and the Hungarian and international frames.
This publication uses the results and statements of the scientific workshop co-ordinated by the Research Institute for Soil Science and Agricultural chemistry of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as well as of the UN-CEEWEB project (National Capacity Self-Assessment of UN Conventions, 2003-2004).
We hope that the elaboration of the EU Soil Strategy gives an impulse to professional and social discussions on the necessary steps of complex soil protection and sustainable resource management in Hungary as well, thus contributing to the indispensable change of attitude.