The Federal Soil Protection Act (BBodSchG) came into force in 1999. Besides water, air and nature in general, it aims to protect the soil, that is to safeguard and restore its functions permanently.
Soil forms the basis of life and provides a habitat for humans, animals, plants and soil organisms. It is part of the ecosystem and a medium for decomposition, balance and restoration. For example, it filters substances from rainwater or wastewater before they reach the groundwater. It also archives the natural and cultural history and serves as a raw materials store. It forms the ground on which we build our homes and infrastructure, on which we walk and grow our crops, for example.
The Environmental Atlas provides five maps that focus on the individual “Soil Functions”, according to the BBodSchG. They illustrate the “Habitat Function for Near-Natural and Rare Plant Communities”, the “Yield Function for Cultivated Plants”, the “Buffering and Filtration Function”, the “Regulatory Function for the Water Balance” and the “Archival Function for Natural History”. This collection of topics also contains a summary map that provides a comprehensive overview of all soil functions and where to find soils that have a high “Capacity [of Soils] to Fulfil the Natural Soil Functions and the Archival Function”.
The chapter “Criteria for the Evaluation of Soil Functions” describes the characteristic values used to evaluate each function and where you can find particularly valuable soils.