Like air, water or light, soil is a natural and indispensable basis of life for plants, animals and people. Agriculture can only produce permanently healthy food on intact soils. The soil is hardly renewable and is therefore only available to a limited extent as a resource.
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Importance of soil
Soils are a highly complex structure made of mineral components and organic substances, in whose pores water and air are stored. As a substrate, they are of existential importance for life on earth. Soils are the location for valuable biotopes as well as for agricultural and forestry use. At the same time, they harbor a wide variety of living things, such as bacteria, fungi, algae and tiny insects. Soils and their inhabitants are part of the essential cycles of the natural balance, such as the material, energy and water balance of ecosystems.
Soils are important carbon stores and exchange various climate-relevant gases with the atmosphere. With the build-up and decomposition of organic matter, soils play a decisive role in climate change. In addition to these natural functions, soils play an important role as an archive of natural and cultural history, which comes to light, for example, during excavations and archaeological investigations.
Land use for construction measures, soil erosion, pollutant inputs and changes in the soil structure can change soils and their functions, at least temporarily and regionally, and endanger sustainable uses. Soil sealing usually leads to a total loss of soil functions, which can only be reversed with great effort. The remediation of soils that are heavily contaminated with pollutants is very expensive and often tedious. The soil formation rate of around 0.1 millimeters per year is very low. Lost soils are practically non-renewable. Soils are influenced and impaired in a variety of ways – they, therefore, need protection.
Preventive soil protection is particularly important in spatial planning and in the execution of projects: Central specifications for reducing land use are developed in particular within the framework of state and regional planning. Also on the level of land-use planning, an attempt should be made to keep the new use of space as low as possible.
Soil protection during construction work helps to prevent soil compaction, pollution and other impairments of soil functions during the construction phase. In practice, the application and introduction of materials play a major role.