The event gathered representatives of all institutions involved in research, management and use of soil resources in the Republic of Serbia, as well as international organisations. The Republic of Serbia gave official support to the initiative of the UN to declare 2015 the International Year of Soils, and to mark it by numerous events worldwide in order to raise awareness about profound importance of soil for our planet, its multiple roles, and current challenges for its sustainable use.
The participants were welcomed by the director of the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Dr. Jegor Miladinović, who said that he is proud to be at the head of such an institution, expressing satisfaction that Laboratory for Soil and Agroecology independently organized such an important event.
The event was officially opened by Danilo Golubović, State Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection. He pointed out that Serbia has a good share of soil – circa 1.5 ha per citizen and around 0.6 ha of agricultural land per citizen, but there are difficulties too: “Serbia annually loses 6 to 8 thousands of hectares of agricultural land, which is an issue, considering that only half of the total agricultural land is arable. The global setting is no better because 900 hectares of agricultural land is lost every second due to climate changes, intensive agricultural production, and human negligence”, said Golubović. He also stated that the main objectives are preservation of agricultural and forest soil, as well as educating the public.
He suggested that the new Law on Agricultural Land would significantly direct the users of agricultural land to treat the soil in sustainable manner, to regularly cultivate, and apply mineral nutrients adequately, as well as to fertilize as necessary.
Pier Carlo Sandei, Associate Mountain Programme Officer at the UNEP Regional Office for Europe, presented the activities of UNEP on soil preservation in Serbia and stated that UNEP is launching a significant project in close cooperation with Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, which will closely observe land degradation and its consequences at the national level for the first time. The project is titled “Enhanced cross-sectoral land management through land use pressure reduction and planning”, and its objectives include sharing science and technology, strengthening institutional capacities, partnership development for joint activities and raising awareness about integrated and sustainable land management.
Dr. Jovica Vasin, head of Laboratory for Soil and Agroecology of the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops said: “People today are not aware of how close we came to the critically small area of quality soils where we can produce food. Threats to the soil are numerous, and the largest number of those threats is caused by man, which includes pollution and occupation of land by transport and urban infrastructure, which leads to irretrievably lost land for agricultural production. There are some natural processes, but man can make such soil arable for the benefit of agriculture and human kind based on soil analyses results and previous experiences”.
Dragana Gođevac Obradović, director of the Directorate for Agricultural Land said that, according to the analyses of the Directorate, there is a significant deterioration of soil quality due to inadequate use of cultivation practices and mineral nutrients, as well as non-implementation of cultivation practices, which also leads to soil degradation. “We have good conditions and quality soil, compared to other countries in Europe, and we should constantly work on improving its quality, not because it is necessary just for our generation, but also because we leave it to the future generations. We should start using field record in order to monitor crop rotation and application of cultivation practices”, said director of Directorate for Agricultural Land.
Filip Radović, director of Agency for Environmental Protection stated that one thousand square kilometres annually turn into artificial environment and ceases to exist as soil on the territory of EU. “This is why initiative of UN is important, and the Agency for Environmental Protection will cooperate with UN Programme to create cadaster of “hot spots” at the territory of Republic of Serbia. We will all contribute at the most, primarily through engagement of our experts and National laboratory for environmental protection”, said Radović.
Prof. Dr. Vladimir Hadžić talked about history of soil science in the Republic of Serbia. Also, Benjamin Klinger, manager of GIZ project: „Rural development: Effective Land Management“ spoke at the event, as well as Jan Dusik, Acting Director of UNEP Regional Office for Europe, who sent his video message regarding this event.
Declaration on soil was signed at the event as a contribution of the Republic of Serbia to the international initiative of UN. Declaration was signed by Danilo Golubović, State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, Prof. Dr. Branko Bugarski, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development, Prof. Dr. Milivoj Belić, President of Soil Science Society of Serbia, and Dr. Jegor Miladinović, Director of the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops.
Organisation of this event and signing the Declaration showed that institutions, science and economy in Republic of Serbia are cooperating to preserve soils.
The main organiser of the event was Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops in cooperation with Soil Science Society of Serbia. The event was realised in partnership with UNEP programme, and with the support of economy.