In the Mediterranean, its long history records striking examples of successes and failures of land use models and management, which, in the latter case, are a heavy heritage for the soil resource in this basin. At present day, many forms of soil degradation threaten Mediterranean soils as, for instance salinization, pollution, structural degradation and erosion. There is a geographical pattern of distribution of these forms of soil degradation and soil erosion is first in rank as far as sloping areas are concerned. Corresponding to a very large surface of Mediterranean land, these are especially sensitive areas, where soils are a qualitatively scarce resource. They heir a very significant part of cropping systems, crops and products traditional of the Mediterranean, vineyards and olive groves being the most relevant ones. Improvements in productivity and economic income of these areas are imperative to reduce population depletion and its impacts on territory sustainability. On the other hand, the long-term cultivated and highly eroded slopes ask for alternative land use models and management options that allow recovery of already much degraded environments. The importance of sloping areas, their land uses and misuses, comes also from their hydrological key role, that, in the Mediterranean, has large consequences for water conservation, flood hazard and off-site effects of soil erosion. To cope with threats to soil resource highlighted, soil protection initiatives are needed. The thematic strategy for soil protection in Europe clearly sets, at policy level, the topic in high priority, as the need for soil protection is there stated in specific terms. This new political background encourages defining specifically oriented rationale in view soil protection measures design and implementation. Actually, expertise acquired in the last couple of decades throughout Europe, as part of the European strong research efforts in the topic, shows the high level of specialization necessary to tackle with soil protection issues. The still growing research-borne information has to be converted into technically useful tools for real world problem solving. The thematic strategy for soil protection in Europe asks for such a challenge and problems posed on Mediterranean sloping areas are certainly important test-subjects.
As requirements imposed by regulations issued from the thematic strategy for soil protection in Europe become more specific, demand is expected to grow for technical staff able to deal with the design and implementation of soil protection measures. This is why and what for SPinSMEDE was designed, planned and organized.
We are glad to put again our ideas, intentions and wishes at test. In this third edition SPinSMEDE takes place partly in Spain, at the Camps de Lugo of the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (USC), which organizes the initial part of the programme, to be ended in Bragança, Portugal, at IPB. A scientific excursion across the border transfers the programme from Lugo to Bragança. As a very important part in the challenge SPinSMEDE 2010 is, you’re invited to share the experience and join us in Lugo, where we’re looking forward to welcoming you in May. Colleagues from partner Universities accepted to give their contribution to SPinSMEDE and their expertise, brought together to provide you a high quality programme in Soil Protection issues, is the most relevant we may offer you. We trust you’ll take the best advantage of it.
Welcome to SPinSMEDE 2010.
Agustín Merino, USC (Organization) and Tomás de Figueiredo, IPB (Coordination)