The most important soil functions are to filtrate underground water, to hold and provide nutritious substances and water necessary for plant growth, to be a living source for different organisms and decomposing substances, to absorb, store and reflect the sun's energy, and to provide the surface on which man and other animals exist.
Basis for biomass production
Filtering, buffering and transformation
Habitat and gene reservoir
Source of raw materials
Conflicts sometimes result when different functions compete for the soil. For centuries all soil functions were maintained without much difficulty. Problems arose at the beginning of the 20th century when increasing development disrupted the ecological functions of the soil.
Settlements and infrastructure expansion, industrial and transport development, waste dumping, mining for raw materials and intensive agriculture all exert pressure on the soil. Deterioration of soil characteristics usually occurs as a result of human activities, leading to the degradation of one or more soil functions.
There is a need to strike a balance among all interests concerned and to harmonise soil use at the regional level in order to allow soil functions to transpire concurrently and in a sustainable manner.