Soil Functions 2015


When the Federal Soil Protection Act came into force in 1999 (BBodSchG), soil as an environmental medium was protected by its very own specific law, as was already the case for water, air and nature conservation. This law aims at “permanently safeguarding or restoring 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 Section 1). The Federal Soil Protection Act distinguishes the following functions of the soil:

1. Natural functions

a) as the basis of life and habitat for people, animals, plants and soil organisms

b) as a component of the ecosystem, particularly with its water and nutrient cycles and

c) as a medium for decomposition, balance and restoration in response to material effects as a result of its filtering, buffering and substance-converting properties, in particular, too, for the protection of the groundwater.

2. Functions as an archive of natural and cultural history, as well as

3. Use functions

a) as raw-materials storage

b) as land for settlement and recreation

c) as land for agriculture and forestry

d) as land for other economic and public uses, such as transport, supply and waste disposal.

Exercising these use functions can restrict or block the natural functions and the archival function of the soil. The main focus of sustainable soil protection (only in German) is thus on protecting these natural soil functions.

Targeted soil protection measures presuppose knowledge of the efficacy, protection level and sensitivity of soils and their functions. The assessment process of soil functions, i.e. the determination of the efficacy of soils as part of the ecosystem, will highlight those soils in Berlin that need to be protected first and foremost.

The functions addressed in Maps 01.12.1 through 01.12.5 were selected based on Tab.1 and the functions listed in the Federal Soil Protection Act:

Link to: Vergrößern
Tab. 1: Soil functions as per the Federal Soil Protection Act (BBodSchG) and their assessment in terms of their specific functions for Berlin
Image: Umweltsatlas Berlin

The evaluation of the efficacy of the soils is an important criterion for preventive soil protection in urban-construction planning (only in German).