Dear Colleagues,

Although online Conferences are by far no compensation to face-to-face meetings, the last COMMON FORUM Autumn Meeting in October 2020 turned out to be a great success and fantastic occasion to exchange again within appealing topics and stimulating discussions.

The coming months will face challenging opportunities to participate in ongoing processes involving soil and contaminated land management within the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy (Soil Thematic Strategy, Zero Pollution Action Plan, Strategy for a Sustainable Built Environment, Industrial Emissions Directive).

CF-Secretariat as well as the CF WG ‘Soil as a Resource’ will follow and contribute to the public consultation processes. We are looking forward to intense weeks of discussion and exchange!

Keep safe and healthy and have a peaceful pre-holiday season!
Martha and Dietmar

The presentations and meeting report of our last COMMON FORUM Web Meeting held together with 2 accompanying meetings (WG Soil as a Resource and Diffuse Pollution initiative) in October 2020 are now available on the Website.

Thanks to the COMMON FORUM members and guests for their participation and for the fruitful discussions under these special circumstances!


EEA Signals 2020 – Towards zero pollution in Europe

The report ‘EEA Signals 2020 – Towards zero pollution in Europe’ presents an overview of air, water and soil pollution as well as other angles to the topic, based on previously published EEA information and data.

‘EEA Signals 2020’ looks at different types of pollution and their sources. The report presents measures to improve air quality, which would improve people’s health, main pressures on Europe’s freshwater bodies and seas, and how soil pollution is still a wide-spread and growing problem.

Chapters deal with land and soil pollution, raise the question regarding the polluter pays principle and the challenge of reducing industrial pollution.


LUCAS Soil 2015

LUCAS 2015 Topsoil data are released based on samples collected during the 2015 LUCAS Survey. LUCAS Soil provides harmonised data for the entire territory of the European Union (EU), addressing all major land cover types simultaneously, in a single sampling period (April – October 2015), using a standard sampling protocol and a single laboratory for analysis and containing soil properties data (texture, coarse fragments, pH, OC, CaCO3, N, P, K, electrical conductivity) for 21,859 samples in EU.

Data to be downloaded: link

LUCAS 2015 Topsoil Survey (presentation of dataset and results)

Assessment of changes in topsoil properties in LUCAS samples between 2009/2012 and 2015 surveys: link

Roadmap for new EU Soil Strategy

By 5 November 2020 the European Commission published the roadmap towards a new Soil Strategy (to access click HERE).

This roadmap is open for feedback until 10 December 2020. Feedback will be taken into account for further development and fine tuning of the initiative. The final adoption of the new Soil Strategy is envisaged until summer 2021.

Taking the wider perspective on climate and biodiversity the roadmap provides for 6 comprehensive goals, among those likely 2 (identification of contaminated sites; restoration of degraded soils) touching upon contaminated land management issues.

The process towards the new Soil Strategy of the European Union is of vital interest to COMMON FORUM and its members. Accordingly the COMMON FORUM Working Group “Soil as a Resource” is taking over the task to follow, discuss and contribute to the process for the new Soil Strategy.

EC Zero Pollution Action Plan roadmap

The European Commission has recently published its Roadmap for the Zero Pollution Action Plan. You can find the roadmap available for download at the Commission’s page on the zero pollution action plan:


The wider consultation process around the ZP initiative has also started. There was an opportunity to provide direct feedback on the roadmap itself until 29 October 2020. A broader public consultation is planned for end of 2020. For both, the invitation from the Commission is open to participate in the feedback exercises and/or disseminate further.

Adoption of the final action plan is anticipated around June 2021.

EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

The European Commission adopted the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability on 14 October 2020. The Strategy is the first step towards a zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment announced in the European Green Deal. The Strategy will boost innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals, and increase protection of human health and the environment against hazardous chemicals.

The Strategy aims to significantly increase the protection of human health and the environment from harmful chemicals, paying particular attention to vulnerable population groups.

Actions amongst others:

  • phasing out the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the EU, unless their use is essential

European Industrial Emissions Directive - Update

The process to come up with an updated European Industrial Emissions Directive has been initialised by March 2020. The feedback period for the roadmap has been closed. The public consultation period will start end of 2020. The Commission adoption is planned for end of 2021.

Integrated water management – revised lists of surface and groundwater pollutants

A recent ‘fitness check’ (evaluation) found EU water legislation to be broadly fit for purpose. However, improvement is needed on aspects such as investment, implementing rules, integrating water objectives into other policies, chemical pollution, administrative simplification and digitalisation. This initiative addresses the findings on chemical pollution and the legal obligation to regularly review the lists of priority substances and groundwater pollutants.

There is an opportunity to provide direct feedback on the roadmap itself (here) until 20 November 2020. A broader public consultation is planned for the third quarter of 2021. The Commission adoption is planned for the third quarter of 2022.

The relevance of sustainable soil management within the European Green Deal

L. Montanarella, P. Panagos
Land Use Policy, Volume 100, January 2021

The new European Green Deal has the ambition to make the European Union the first climateneutral continent by 2050. The European Commission presented an ambitious package of measures within the Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the Farm to Fork and the European Climate Law including actions to protect our soils.

The Farm to Fork strategy addresses soil pollution with 50 % reduction in use of chemical pesticides by 2030 and aims 20 % reduction in fertilizer use plus a decrease of nutrient losses by at least 50%. The Biodiversity Strategy has the ambition to set a minimum of 30 % of the EU’s land area as protected areas, limit urban sprawl, reduce the pesticides risk, bring back at least 10 % of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features, put forward the 25 % of the EU’s agricultural land as organically farmed, progress in the remediation of contaminated sites, reduce land degradation and plant more than three billion new trees. The new EU Soil Observatory will be collecting policy relevant data and developing indicators for the regular assessment and progress towards the ambitious targets of the Green Deal.


Caring for soil is caring for life

“Caring for Soil is Caring for Life” is the title of the mission proposed by the Soil Health and Food Mission Board. The mission’s goal is to “ensure that 75% of soils are healthy by 2030 and are able to provide essential ecosystem services”, such as the provision of food and other biomass, supporting biodiversity, storing and regulating the flow of water, or mitigating the effects of climate change. The target corresponds to a 100% increase of healthy soils against the current baseline.

This interim report sets out the vision and the blueprint to reach this ambition through a combination of research and innovation, training and advice, as well as the demonstration of good practices for soil management using “Living labs” and “Lighthouses”. To be successful, the mission will also improve the monitoring of soil health and the pressures acting on them, mobilise investments, and encourage changes in policies. The mission will be a joint endeavour by stakeholders, researchers, policy-makers and citizens alike that will put Europe on a path towards sustainable land and soil management as part of a wider, green societal transition.

European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) - Newsletter

ESDAC Newsletter No.124 (September – October 2020) -

Contribute to the GSP newest tool: SoiLEX

The Global Soil Partnership is currently developing a new tool, SoiLEX, a global database on national legislation on soil protection, conservation and restoration to facilitate access to information on the existing legal instruments in force and bridge the gap between the various soil stakeholders. The online platform will facilitate the search for national soil legal instruments, the understanding of the different legal areas relevant to soil management and protection, as well as the exchange of experiences in soil governance between countries and regions.

You can contribute to the creation of the platform by answering the SoiLEX questionnaire, which aims to verify the validity of the information we currently have on your country and to enrich the database. The database has been built upon FAOLEX database, which is to date one of the largest global electronic collection of legal frameworks and instruments related to food, agriculture and natural resources management, as well as the EU Soil Wiki, an online inventory of soil protection policy instruments for EU Member States.


Protocol for the assessment of Sustainable Soil Management

September 23, 2020, endorsed by the ad-hoc session of the VIII GSP Plenary

The ad-hoc session of the VIII GSP Plenary endorsed the Protocol after two further rounds of consultations since June 2020. The Protocol will be used to assess Sustainable Soil Management according to its definition included in the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management.


The NICOLE Quick Guide to Land Stewardship: Investing in the Natural, Social and Economic Capital of Industrial Land

In 2018, NICOLE together with the Common Forum, issued a booklet on Land Stewardship, thereby exploring and explaining what the concept meant to them. Building on this booklet NICOLE proceeded in 2019/2020 to produce an easy to use and accessible guide for their members on how to put Land Stewardship into practice at their sites. This digital guide is a next step to put LS into practice. It consists of two parts:

The NICOLE quick guide to LS consists of a series of clearly identified steppingstones that the user can take to go through the cycle of Land Stewardship.

New documents on EUGRIS, the platform for European contaminated soil and water information. Resources, events projects and news items added on EUGRIS can be viewed at: www.eugris.info/whatsnew.asp. Then select the appropriate month and year for the updates in which you are interested. However, here is a selection of new additions to EUGRIS in 2020 prepared by Paul Bardos (r3 Environmental Technology Ltd) for COMMON FORUM members.

Swiss National Soil Strategy

In May 2020, the Swiss Federal Council has passed the National Soil Strategy for the sustainable use of soil. The Strategy wants to make sure that also in future soils are still fertile and provide their services for society and economy.

The Strategy pursues 6 overarching objectives:

  • Reduce soil consumption
  • Manage soil consumption on the basis of an overall perspective
  • Protect soil from harmful impacts
  • Restore degraded soils
  • Improve awareness of the value and sensitivity of soil
  • Strengthen international commitment

The National Soil Strategy is intended to serve the competent federal government and cantonal authorities as a guiding framework and decision-making aid. It provides a roadmap for tackling the challenges that have been identified.

In order to close the gap of reliable, coherent and nationwide information on Swiss soils, the Swiss National Competence Centre for Soil (KOBO) was established in 2019. KOBO will play a key role in gathering soil information: update and develop norms and standards, gather soil data (nationwide soil mapping program, monitoring), create a national platform (data management), analysis and interpretation (Central Service Point).

Swiss National Soil Strategy Link: English, German, French, Italian will be available soon

IMPEL - In situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) and Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE)

IMPEL, the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (www.impel.eu), is promoting a project called Water and Land Remediation. The general objective is targeted to enhance understanding regarding the deployment of remediation technologies.

In 2020 the project starts with a focus on two techniques: In situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) and Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE). For this aim, two questionnaires have been developed regarding these two remediation technologies, available at this link:

Please note that:

  • not every question necessarily needs to be answered, if not meaningful: skip;
  • you may submit also in an anonymous mode, if you like or you are not allowed to report your name or the site;
  • your case studies are useful, also if they have been already presented in any past conferences;
  • English is preferred but you may submit also in your country language

Case studies will be reported in the Annex of the final document and submitters will be reported as contributors to the final document. Your experience in managing successful or problematic remediation will be useful to others!

Please send your case studies in response to Marco FALCONI marco.falconi@isprambiente.it (and/or keep us informed via CF-secretariat@umweltbundesamt.at)

Deadline: 31 December 2020

Flemish Sediment Management concept 2022-27

The 1st Flemish sediment management concept (looking out for the period 2022-2027) is under consultation. It builds on a risk analysis based on most recent data and models, includes an estimation of the costs and possible benefits of the current sediment management, defines objectives for the future and envisages a number of possible scenarios of sediment management.

Link (in Flemish)

Societal perceptions on remediation technologies: guidance for engagement with residents
CRC CARE Technical Report no. 45, CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment, Newcastle, Australia

Remediation policies and guidelines are increasingly recognising the value of drawing on the knowledge and experiences of diverse stakeholders, including affected residents, to support technology selection, and to inform other related areas of remediation policy such as risk management and sustainability assessment. This report helps remediation service providers, auditors, local governments, health professionals and environmental regulators to develop and implement plans for remediation using an evidence-based understanding of residents’ perceptions and acceptance of remediation technologies.


Mining Journal Intelligence, SRK Consulting, and Turner & Townsend. Aspermont Media, London, UK, 12 pp, 2020

Mine closure has become a core part of a much wider industry conversation around social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and corporate governance. This white paper addresses the current industry practice for mine-closure planning and execution, trending regulatory changes that govern fiscal provisions and liabilities around mine closure, social transitioning and sustainability, what an integrated mine-closure plan and contemporary rehabilitation should look like, and the steps the industry needs to take to improve best practice and ensure the optimal outcome for all stakeholders.


Targeting the soil quality and soil health concepts when aiming for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Green Deal
Bonfante, A., Basile, A., and Bouma, J.: SOIL, 6, 453–466, https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-6-453- 2020, 2020

The concepts of soil quality and soil health are widely used as soils receive more attention in the worldwide policy arena. So far, however, the distinction between the two concepts is unclear, and operational procedures for measurement are still being developed. A proposal is made to focus soil health on actual soil conditions, as determined by a limited set of indicators that reflect favourable rooting conditions. In addition, soil quality can express inherent soil conditions in a given soil type (genoform), reflecting the effects of past and present soil management (expressed by various phenoforms). Soils contribute to ecosystem services that, in turn, contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, more recently, to the EU Green Deal. Relevant soil ecosystem services are biomass production (SDG 2 – zero hunger), providing clean water (SDG 6), climate mitigation by carbon capture and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (SDG 13 – climate action), and biodiversity preservation (SDG 15 – life on land). The use of simulation models for the soil–water–atmosphere–plant system is proposed as a quantitative and reproducible procedure to derive single values for soil health and soil quality for current and future climate conditions. Crop production parameters from the international yield gap programme are used in combination with soil-specific parameters expressing the effects of phenoforms. These procedures focus on the ecosystem service, namely biomass production. Other ecosystem services are determined by soil-specific management and are to be based on experiences obtained in similar soils elsewhere or by new research. A case study, covering three Italian soil series, illustrates the application of the proposed concepts, showing that soil types (soil series) acted significantly differently to the effects of management and also in terms of their reaction to climate change.


European Decontamination Industry Report 2020

The European Decontamination Institute, EDI, has launched the first European Decontamination Industry Report with an online presentation open to the public, with the participation of international entities that shared their vision of the industry.

The report includes a visual overview of Europe’s decontamination industry and information about the evolution of the companies in 2019 and the forecast for 2020. Results of the EDI Industry Report 2020 reveal that half of the contractors consulted work at local and regional level, although a significant percentage (40%) work at national level.

According to the data collected, the substance most frequently removed by contractors is asbestos, followed by PCB. Compared to 2019, almost half of the companies that completed the survey stated that their business prospects in 2020 for activities related to decontamination remain stable. Investment in 2019 has remained stable too, a tendency that may be repeated in 2020, for machinery, equipment and consumables.

The data collected show that more than half of the companies work with their own decontamination equipment (bought or long-term leasing).


PFAS in food: EFSA assesses risks and sets tolerable intake

The European Food Safety Authority has set a new safety threshold for the main perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that accumulate in the body. The threshold – a group tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 4.4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight per week – is part of a scientific opinion on the risks to human health arising from the presence of these substances in food.


The four PFAS that EFSA’s assessment focused on are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS).

The 2018 opinion set separate TWIs for PFOS and PFOA, but EFSA has re-evaluated these substances considering more recent scientific knowledge and has followed its recent guidance for assessing combined exposure to multiple chemicals.

EFSA’s scientific advice will support risk managers in their decisions on how best to protect consumers from exposure to PFAS through food.

Technical report: Outcome of a public consultation on the draft risk assessment of perfluoroalkyl substances in food

Kornuc, J., R.A. Deeb, and D. Sedlak. ESTCP Project ER-201729, 37 pp, 2020

Site-specific treatability studies were conducted to validate the performance of in situ thermallyenhanced persulfate oxidation for PFAS at low pH. Because this technology is not expected to fully destroy all PFAS, the technology would need to be used in combination with pump-and-treat to address a mixed PFAS source zone.


ITRC Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Risk Communication Fact Sheets

ITRC's PFAS Team has released 12 updated and new fact sheets - 11 PFAS fact sheets and one risk communication toolkit fact sheet. The PFAS Team developed the short fact sheets with updated content to replace the older, longer fact sheets. For more detailed information, users of the fact sheets will also want to access the newly updated PFAS Technical and Regulatory Guidance Document. View or download at https://pfas-1.itrcweb.org/fact-sheets/.

Green Science Policy Interactive Workshop on PFAS

The Green Science Policy Institute hosted an interactive workshop on the science and policy of PFAS Oct 15-16, 2020 in conjunction with PFAS in Our World, organized by the STEEP Superfund Research Center. The talks can be viewed here.

Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class

This commentary presents a scientific basis for managing as one chemical class the thousands of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). The class includes perfluoroalkyl acids, perfluoroalkylether acids, and their precursors; fluoropolymers and perfluoropolyethers; and other PFAS. The basis for the class approach is presented in relation to their physicochemical, environmental, and toxicological properties. Specifically, the high persistence, accumulation potential, and/or hazards (known and potential) of PFAS studied to date warrant treating all PFAS as a single class. Examples are provided of how some PFAS are being regulated and how some businesses are avoiding all PFAS in their products and purchasing decisions. We conclude with options for how governments and industry can apply the class-based approach, emphasizing the importance of eliminating non-essential uses of PFAS, and further developing safer alternatives and methods to remove existing PFAS from the environment.


Metal contamination and bioremediation of agricultural soils for food safety and sustainability
D. Hou, et al.
Nature Reviews Earth & Environment volume 1, pages 366–381(2020)

Agricultural soil is a non-renewable natural resource that requires careful stewardship in order to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. However, industrial and agricultural activity is often detrimental to soil health and can distribute heavy metal(loid)s into the soil environment, with harmful effects on human and ecosystem health. In this Review, we examine processes that can lead to the contamination of agricultural land with heavy metal(loid)s, which range from mine tailings runoff entering local irrigation channels to the atmospheric deposition of incinerator and coal-fired power-plant emissions. We discuss the relationship between heavy metal(loid) biogeochemical transformations in the soil and their bioavailability. We then review two biological solutions for remediation of contaminated agricultural land, plant-based remediation and microbial bioremediation, which offer cost-effective and sustainable alternatives to traditional physical or chemical remediation technologies. Finally, we discuss how integrating these innovative technologies with profitable and sustainable land use could lead to green and sustainable remediation strategies, and conclude by identifying research challenges and future directions for the biological remediation of agricultural soils.


PFAS – Dealing with contaminants of emerging concern

International Online-Conference, 30 November – 1 December 2020, held by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) together with the Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

Please register here

See all announcements on COMMON FORUM website

The COMMON FORUM on Contaminated Land, initiated in 1994, is a network of contaminated land policy makers and advisors from national ministries in European Union memberstates and European Free Trade Association countries.