The fifth of December is World Soil Day, a day the world pays tribute to the importance of soil. Soil is the most precious environmental resource on Earth. Taiwan possesses abundant and diverse soil resources, which act as a key player in climate change mitigation. To achieve sustainable soil utilization, the EPA has been improving soil pollution and protecting soil quality while encouraging public engagement on World Soil Day. This is also in line with the UNFCCC’s value of building healthy soil, ultimately for sustainable development and its key mitigating functions.
The EPA expressed that despite Taiwan’s small area, there are unique and diverse factors that form a multitude of different kinds of soil. In fact, Taiwan can be seen as the world’s soil museum for being home to 11 out of the 12 soil orders under the USDA Soil Taxonomy. However, this spectacular world of soil is little known to the public. Rarely do people realize that one centimeter of soil takes thousands of years to form. However, the soil that’s 100 centimeters under human feet in areas where major human activities are carried out is easily prone to pollution from human action.
According to the Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act passed in 2010, the EPA has investigated potentially risky areas that include farmlands, gas stations, large storage tanks, illegal dumping sites, and abandoned factories. The investigation is followed by remediation work to ensure and maintain soil quality. It all aims to prevent soil and groundwater pollution, achieve sustainable resource utilization, and safeguard public health. In the meantime, the EPA has been working hard to remediate pollution sites. By 31 October 2019, a total of 8,702 sites had been listed, and 68% of that (5,935 sites) had been improved and delisted. It surely is an encouraging result as the EPA continues the work of protecting soil quality.
Soil is closely connected to people’s lives, and for years the EPA, through various campaigns, has been reminding the public to care for and protect it. The EPA emphasizes that for policy guidance there is the UNFCCC, the ongoing global action against climate change, and also the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management published in 2017 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Besides listing soil pollution prevention or reduction as one of the nine sustainable soil management indices, the guidelines point out that healthy soil is significant in increasing carbon absorption, lowering greenhouse gas levels, ensuring food production safety, and improving water resource management. After combining relevant conventions and content discussed among signatories, the EPA is striving towards promoting soil’s function of mitigating climate change and designing sustainable management strategies based on each department’s implementation and resources. Moreover, col laboration and research with other countries is underway, with more international experts involved and measures implemented in other countries as references, aiming to intensify soil pollution prevention and promote its environmental functions and utilization. Finally, the EPA is calling on the public to protect this most precious resource and ultimately maintain and foster sustainable and healthy soil.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (1)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)