With the Federal Soil Protection Law in 1999 (BBodSchG), the soil has come under the protection of a specific law of its own, as had previously been the case for the environmental media water and air, and for the conservation of nature. The purpose of the law is to “permanently safeguard or restore the functions of the soil. For this purpose,… precautions against adverse effects upon the soil [are] to be undertaken. In case of measures which impact upon the soil, impairment of its natural functions and its function as an archive of natural and cultural history should be avoided to the extent possible” (BBodSchG § 1). The Federal Soil Protection Law distinguishes the following functions of the soil:
1. Natural functions, including
a) Provision of basic living conditions and habitat for people, animals, plants and soil organisms
b) Serving as a component of the ecosystem, particularly with its water and nutrient cycles filtration,
c) buffering and metabolic qualities, in particular, too, for the protection of the groundwater.
2. Functions as an archive of natural and cultural history.
3. Utility functions, including:
a) Raw-materials storage
b) A location for residence and recreation
c) A location for agriculture and forestry
d) A location for other economic and public uses, such as traffic, supply and waste disposal.
Since the natural soil functions and the archival function can be restricted or completely blocked by the exploitation of the utility functions, the protection of the natural soil functions is central to efforts for sustainable soil protection (link to German page).
Targeted soil protection measures presuppose knowledge of the efficacy, protection-worthiness and sensitivity of soils and their functions. The present evaluation of the soil functions, i.e. the efficacy of the soils in the ecosystem, will describe those soils in Berlin which are to be protected as a matter of priority.
The selection of the functions shown in Maps 01.12.1 through 5 has been carried out with a view of the functions listed in the Federal Soil Protection Law, as listed in Table 1: