With this approach, it has been possible to avoid addressing the issue of private property rights, which constitutes the major difference between soils and the other environmental areas, like air and water. The Strategy recognises that all soils deliver services to all of us, and that therefore, there is an obligation to protect these vital functions for us and for future generations. The fact that soils can only be regenerated in their full multi-functionality after a very long process of soil formation starting from the original bedrock, often taking several thousands of years, requires the introduction of sustainable criteria in soil management, given that it can be considered as a non-renewable natural resource.

Soil functions are currently under threat in Europe by a series of relevant soil degradation processes. Essentially, the EU Soil Thematic Strategy recognises eight major threats: soil erosion, decline of soil organic matter, soil contamination, loss of soil biodiversity, salinisation, compaction, soil sealing and landslides.