Incorporating the soil function concept into sustainability appraisal of remediation alternatives
Journal article, 2013
Soil functions are critical for ecosystem survival and thus for an ecosystem's provision of services to humans. This is recognized in the proposed EU Soil Framework Directive from 2006, which lists seven important soil functions and services to be considered in a soil management practice. Emerging regulatory requirements demand a holistic view on soil evaluation in remediation projects. This paper presents a multi-scale, structured and transparent approach for incorporating the soil function concept into sustainability appraisal of remediation alternatives using a set of ecological, socio-cultural and economic criteria. The basis for the presented approach is a conceptualization of the linkages between soil functions and ecosystem services connected to with the sustainability paradigm. The approach suggests using (1) soil quality indicators (i.e. physical, chemical and biological soil properties) for exploring the performance of soil functions at the site level, and (2) soil service indicators (i.e. value-related measurements) for evaluating the performance of services resulting from soil functions across all levels of the spatial scale. The suggested approach is demonstrated by application in a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) framework for sustainability appraisals of remediation alternatives. Further, the possibilities of using soil quality indicators for soil function evaluation are explored by reviewing existing literature on potential negative and positive effects of remediation technologies on the functionality of the treated soil. The suggested approach for including the soil function concept in remediation projects is believed to provide a basis for better informed decisions that will facilitate efficient management of contaminated land and to meet emerging regulatory requirements on soil protection.
Multi-criteria decision analysis