Engaging citizens in soil science: the road to healthier soils
What is ECHO?
ECHO is a Research and Innovation Action co-funded by the European Union, under the Horizon Europe programme. It will last 4 years – from June 2023 to May 2027. The project aims to engage citizens in protecting and restoring soils by building their skills and enhancing their knowledge. Citizens will actively contribute to the project’s data collection, promote soil stewardship and foster behavioural change across the EU. The ECHOREPO, a long-term open access repository with a direct link to the EUSO, will make the citizen science data available for exploitation not only by scientists, but also by the general public, policy makers, farmers, landowners and other end-users, providing added value to existing data and other relevant soil monitoring initiatives. ECHOREPO will provide valuable information about the state of soil health in various regions, helping citizens make informed decisions about land use and conservation.
With 16 partners from all over Europe, including 10 leading universities and research centres, 4 SMEs and 2 Foundations, under the coordination of the Free University of Bolzano-Bozen, ECHO will assess 16,500 sites in different climate and biogeographic regions to achieve its ambitious goals.
• to engage citizens through increased knowledge, stimulate their interest in soil health related issues and motivate them to protect and restore soils
• to empower citizens by inviting them to take an active role in data collection and soil science to generate knowledge on soil health for everyone’s benefit
• to enable citizens to take an active role and directly participating in decision-making on soil issues based on acquired knowledge
ECHO is a shared effort of 16 partners from all over Europe, including leading universities, research centres, SMEs, and foundations. 16 partners with a shared passion for soil ECHO is a shared effort of 16 partners from all over Europe, including leading universities, research centres, SMEs, and foundations, under the coordination of the Free University of Bolzano-Bozen. ECHO will assess 16,500 sites in different climate and biogeographic regions to achieve its ambitious goals.
Activities and Tools
• 28 tailor-made citizen science initiatives across EU Member States, taking into account different land-uses, soil types, and biogeographical regions, as well as stakeholder needs
• 16,500 sites in different climate and biogeographic regions assessed
• ECHOREPO - a long-term open access repository with a direct link to the EUSO (The EU Soil Observatory). The ECHOREPO will be accessible through this website
• The Citizen Science Platform, which will include a mobile app and a toolbox
• Significantly increased public awareness of the value of soil. Citizens across European Member States will be motivated to protect and restore soils and empowered to actively contribute to soil friendly practices, also through their choices as consumers
• Citizens are encouraged to take an active role in science and increasing the knowledge on soils by monitoring and gathering data on soil biodiversity, becoming more aware of the importance of soils and the soil food web in their daily lives
• Greater availability of local scale data on soil health. This will expand and complement established soil databases to support critical landscape decisions and policy development
• The EU Soil Observatory scope is enlarged and populated with citizen science data 4 years, from 2023 to 2027 16 partners from all over Europe 28 tailor-made citizen science initiatives 16500 sites assessed
Why is ECHO important?
Soil is a vital, yet often disregarded, resource that supports life on Earth by providing the foundation for agriculture, forests, and various other natural ecosystems. However, soil degradation is a growing concern around the world, and it can have severe consequences for our planet, such as reduced crop yields, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and decreased bio-diversity.
The “Soil Deal for Europe” Mission recognises an urgent need for research and innovation to protect and restore soil health via sustainable interventions. Achieving this ambitious goal requires knowledge and awareness of the importance of long-term soil health, its value and challenges. Through cooperation across Europe, the Mission aims to accomplish the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.
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PROJECT ECHO – ENGAGING CITIZENS IN SOIL SCIENCE: THE ROAD TO HEALTHIER SOILS IS FUNDED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION UNDER GA NO. 101112869 AND CO-FUNDED BY UK RESEARCH AND INNOVATION (UKRI).