Lower Austria exports "our soil - we stand on it!"


In Lower Austria, not only has soil been given special attention for around 13 years, but the subject is also being "exported" to other countries in many ways: a new project to address the entire Danube region with its 100 million people is now in the starting blocks.

It has long been recognized in the federal state of Lower Austria that the soil is a - not to say the - basic resource and the primary source of production for all economies. That is why the country joined the European Soil Alliance in 2003, in which Lower Austria today has the highest density of members with 70 municipalities and 15 organizations. In 2007, Lower Austria was the first federal state to launch and implement its own ground campaign entitled "Our soil - we stand on it!" And the motto "Use it sensibly, protect it carefully". In particular, this campaign focuses on soil quality as well as the economical use of soils. Ground network starting from Lower Austria, the SONDAR (Soil Network in the Danube Region) ground network in the Danube region has emerged.
Through SONDAR, the blue-yellow soil campaign has also been "exported" to the neighboring countries of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, where municipalities are working together with scientists to focus on topics such as "Soil as an indicator of flood protection" "Measures to reduce the Soil erosion" and "soil as a filter for pollutants and as a storage of carbon ".
Flood water will be dealt with and worked on together with Slovakia, soil erosion together with the Czech Republic and soil as a filter or storage together with Hungary. In each of the three neighboring countries, a national coordination point has been set up to link these topics. In Austria, the Tulln University and Research Center, the Federal Office for Water Management in Petzenkirchen and the Bioforschung Austria in Vienna have become soil protection research centers.
All EU soil projects are being carried out by the Soil and Sustainability Network BIENE, in close cooperation with Secretary General Peter de Martin of the Working Group Danube Countries. The association is located in Eschenau in the district of Lilienfeld and is lead partner of all projects. Charter, Art and Type Card Another initiative launched in Lower Austria concerning the soil is a Soil Charter, which was launched in 2014 by Provincial Councilor Dr. Stephan Pernkopf and Chamber of Agriculture President Ing. Hermann Schultes presented and implemented in 2015, in the "International Year of the Soil".
The blue and yellow motto "Our soil - Use it sensibly, protect it carefully" was also the inspiration for this charter. This "alliance against land use", which is also supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Austrian Association of Municipalities, the Federal Environment Agency and others, is about raising awareness, improving the legal framework conditions in the area of ​​land use, observing the Soil protection in major projects and the revitalization of city centers and the use of empty spaces. "Especially in terms of awareness, "Our ground - we stand on it! " has delivered an internationally acclaimed contribution", says Dr. Erwin Szlezak, head of the Department of Soil Protection in the Lower Austrian Agricultural District Authority.
Overall, more than 100,000 people have been reached in recent years. The majority of them are young people who playfully and creatively dealt with the topic of soil art. For example, under the motto "painting with the colors of the earth", students from all over Europe produced works of art that travel through the Danube area as an exhibition.
In addition, under the artistic direction of Irena Racek, there are regular multiplier trainings on the topic of soil art. Another action that clearly demonstrates Lower Austria's activity in terms of soil and soil protection is a soil type map of Lower Austria compiled by the Lower Austrian Agricultural District Authority / Department of Land Development. This is the first time that a common map has been made available for agricultural and forestry land in the federal state (as a print version on www.unserboden.at).



The most recent Lower Austria-based soil project is called SONDAR + (Soil and Sustainable-Operations Network in the Danube Region), with the plus for sustainability and thus a corresponding extension of the previous SONDAR project.
The new project, which is scheduled to run from 2017 to 2020, will now cover the entire Danube region. In addition to the Danube countries already mentioned, Croatia and Romania will also act as project partners in the future. The project is based on the existing partnership within the ARGE Danube countries and on SONDAR projects of a total of 17 Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and Austrian institutions; This transnational project is also led and supported by the Soil and Sustainability Network BIENE, which is led by Ing. Franz Rennhofer, Franz Rybaczek and Michael Singraber.



Organic corridor soil

The planned project is intended to strengthen the sustainability activities between science, local and regional alliances, schools and the public in the Danube countries, and to bring further international research partnerships and the implementation of specific measures. The aim is to develop strategies and actions to strengthen the organic corridor "soil" in the Danube region.
Raising awareness and improving people's understanding of soil conservation are also important building blocks of the initiative. Through intensive cooperation and communication with numerous important partners, those responsible expect an even greater success in the field of ​​soil protection and sustainability.
The SONDAR + Network aims to strengthen cooperation between science and industry, administration and agriculture stakeholders and to help disseminate practical results on the use and conservation of soil in all Danube regions. For example, several 100 hectares of multifunctional biotope composite systems are to be created on the model of the Lower Austrian Soil Protection Systems.
The new SONDAR + project will kick off at the 23rd meeting of the Working Group on Sustainability of the ARGE Danube countries on Wednesday, 13th and Thursday, 14th April, at the University and Research Center Tulln of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. The scientific monitoring of the Danube conference is carried out by Dr. Ing. Walter Wenzel, Professor of Soil Protection and Soil Management at the BOKU Tulln site.

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Source: Manuela Eichinger-Hesch in Lower Austria Perspectives 1/2016

Photos © Lower Austrian Agricultural District Authority - Depratment of Land Development