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CRW2022_04 Assessing the socio-economic impacts of soil degradation on Scotland's water environment

CREW Code: CRW2022_04

Theme: Land and Water Resouce Management

Project status: Applications closed

Type of project: Capacity building

Context: Soil degradation can result in damage to people, businesses, and the environment with consequent impacts to a wide range of policy/regulatory/industry areas. Measures required to avoid soil degradation and follow-on impacts may need to be implemented by businesses and in areas that are not necessarily related to the communities and businesses who will benefit the most. The true costs of soil degradation in Scotland for land-based businesses and the wider society (e.g, impacts on water quality, flooding, climate, and biodiversity) is unknown.

Aim: Develop and apply (as supported by available relevant data) a method to assess the socio-economic-environmental impacts of soil degradation, both the on-site impacts on land-based businesses and wider off-site impacts on Scotland’s water environment.

Project key considerations: 

  • Potential to build on or amend existing cost of soil erosion frameworks to include other relevant soil degradation processes in Scotland.

  • Use of these existing or newly developed methods to assess direct, on-site costs to land-based businesses and indirect, wider (on- and off-site) costs to society, with a focus on the impacts on water quality, aquatic habitats and species, biodiversity, and flooding.

  • How best to apply and validate these methods.

Impact: Provide an enhanced understanding of the impacts and costs of soil degradation to inform development and implementation of more holistic actions to prevent wider (and potentially more costly) social and environmental impacts.

View the Project Specification.


Specification queries and answers:

Query 1: Is it expected that peatland degradation and impacts will be included in the costs of soil degradation? Clarification: this is regarding whether impacts (including costs) of degradation of peat and peaty soils on peatland habitat should be included in the project proposal?

Answer 1: The socio-economic impacts of degradation of peat and peaty soils should be included in the project proposal – this could include impacts on peatland habitat – where that has an impact on the wider water environment (e.g., flooding).

Query 2: What is meant by “loss of biodiversity”? Is it the impacts of the loss of soil biodiversity or the offsite impacts of soil degradation on wider aquatic biodiversity?

Answer 2:  Loss of soil biodiversity is a soil degradation process. The socioeconomic impacts of loss of soil biodiversity should be considered. In addition, the off-site impacts of soil degradation include loss of aquatic biodiversity (i.e., habitats and species), and should be considered in the off-site context.

Query 3: What is the expected balance of the project with regard to assessing the impacts of soil degradation on the water environment and the direct impacts on land-based industries?

Answer 3: Both are important. The balance between on-site and off-site impacts is for the project to work out (see the example of the soil erosion project).


Project Objectives

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