Water and Soil Management

'Sustainable management of water and soils' is one of the sub-topics of the broader ENRD thematic work on 'Greening the Rural Economy'.

The ENRD Contact Point carried out analytical work on this topic between September 2017 and July 2018 building on previous ENRD work on 'Resource-Efficient Rural Economy'. This included meetings of a Thematic Group (TG), a European Seminar, factsheets, case studies and briefings.

Water and soils are among the natural resources that constitute the building blocks of ecosystems and of the agriculture and forestry sectors they support. Without action, the pressure on these natural resources is likely to increase as a result of growing population, evolving food demand patterns and the effects of a changing climate.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), particularly cross-compliance standards and the Rural Development Programmes (RDPs), remain the critical means of supporting proper use and management of water and soils in agricultural and forest areas. However, there is room for improvements in the design and implementation of the RDPs to further support more sustainable management practices.

In this context, the ENRD Thematic Group investigated approaches to improving the design and implementation of existing RDP Measures. Based on a collection of case studies, the TG formulated recommendations on how the RDPs can be best used to address issues related to water and soil management.

The TG focused its activity on the following three sub-topics, identified by its members:

  • Results-based payments schemes (RBPS);
  • Collaborative and multi-actor approaches;
  • Nutrient management plans.