AFTER LIFE activity in Zaragoza

On Thursday, January 21st, 2016, The Netherland’s Embassy in Spain hosted a technical seminar in Zaragoza on the management of agricultural soil named “Each year is the Year of Soils: An improved management for better soil use”.

The theme of the day intends to play with the fact that 2015 was declared the International Year of Soil, highlighting the importance of soil in our ecosystems and the need to provide appropriate management all year around, every year.

As part of the activities AFTER-LIFE, project representatives of The Green Deserts have participated as speakers at this conference. They have presented the results of the project as an example of reforestation and soil improvement. During the day about 60 Layman's reports were distributed.

Two other projects were also explained, namely LIFE10/ENV/471 "Crops for Better Soil" and LIFE11/ENV/ES/535 “Operation CO2”; all 3 have in common the execution of practical demonstration projects on soil improvement in Spain and are co-financed by the European Commission.

Other distinguished guests who formally inaugurated the event included the Embassador to the Netherlands, Matthijs van Bonzel, the Agricultural Counsellor for the Embassy of The Netherlands, Catharina Zwitser, and the President of the Government of Aragón, Javier Lambada.

There was plenty of attendance, amongst which were representatives of the Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón (CITA), experts from Wageningen University, and the Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). Additionally, a Special Envoy of the Spanish body of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Ignacio Trueba, was also present.

The event showcased the main problems that have arisen from years of inappropriate or incorrect agricultural soil management, and how they could be solved once sufficient awareness is raised. For instance, of the 15,000 million ha. of available arable land, 5 million ha are degraded every year. This kind of alarming data presented during the event are just the beginning of efforts to create communal conscience on the subject of soil quality, a starting step to assuring a sustainable future that also provides more benefits for farmers.

A variety of mass media channels were able to provide dissemination of the event, including national and regional channels such as RTVE, AragónTV and RNE. RTVE interviewed both Sven Kallen and Egbert Sonneveld, who were able to give their perception of the current problems facing Spanish soil and the existing alternatives to improve its quality. The interview can be seen below.