TICSOIL- Research for fostering environmental awareness and sustainable behaviours to improve quality of urban soils through ITC tools and citizen science

Research to promote environmental awareness and sustainable behavior to improve the quality of urban land through ICT tools and citizen science, carried out by Aran Blanco and financed by the Agència Valenciana de la Innovació – AVI Agreement No INNTA2/2021/9 and by the European Union through European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Soil is a non-renewable resource that performs different functions in the ecosystem: among others, it sustains human activity and that of other living beings, stores water and nutrients, reduces the risk of flooding, buffers the effect of polluting substances, and captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus contributing to mitigating climate change. However, there are a number of degradation processes, such as erosion, organic matter and nutrient depletion, compaction and salinisation, which alter the properties of soils and reduce their quality, understood as their capacity to provide environmental and social services. Although the importance of the quality of agricultural soils is widely demonstrated, urban soils are little taken into account despite their potential, and are considered secondary to the role played by vegetation in green infrastructures.

On the other hand, citizen science initiatives have multiplied in recent years, demonstrating benefits for research and for communities. However, there are few citizen science initiatives related to soils, their properties and functions, and especially dedicated to urban soils. Specifically in the city of Valencia, where the project will focus as a pilot, a major transformation has taken place in the last half of the 20th century, resulting in the irreversible loss of fertile soils, and highlighting the urgent need to effectively implement urban planning policies that protect the soil.

The overall objective of the AVI-funded TICSOIL project is to investigate the impact of citizen science activities related to urban soils, specifically the degree of public knowledge and awareness, and potential behavioural changes for the preservation of this resource.

To this end, the TICSOIL project will develop and validate a citizen science ICT platform that allows citizens to aggregate data on the quality of urban soils in the city of Valencia. In addition, citizen science activities will be carried out to train and motivate different participants in the conservation of urban soils and the ecosystem services they provide.

In this way, the tools and results generated by this project will be reflected in recommendations that contribute to the design of more effective urban land protection measures that contribute to the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.