Facts & Figures

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The annual costs of soil degradation in England and Wales are between £0.9 and £1.4 billion, with a central estimate of £1.2 bn.   These costs are mainly linked to loss of organic content of soils (47% of total cost), compaction (39%) and erosion (12%).

The total costs of soils degradation in England & Wales, Cranfield University, 2015

The contribution of damaged soils to flooding events is estimated to be £233m per year.

Securing UK Soil Health, Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology, 2015

The UK has lost 84% of its fertile topsoil since 1850, with the erosion continuing at a rate of 1cm to 3cm a year.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report (2015)

Around 300,000 hectares of UK soil are thought to be contaminated with toxic elements – such as cadmium, arsenic and lead.

Environmental Audit Committee Report on Soil Health, 2016

English farmers are losing valuable resource through diffuse pollution. 235,000 tonnes of nitrogen and 8,391 tonnes of phosphorus are lost every year that would otherwise help sustain farming.

Consultation on new basic rules for farmers to tackle diffuse water pollution from agriculture in England, 2015

UK soils store over 10 billion tonnes of carbon in the form of organic matter. Over half of the UK’s soil carbon store is contained in peat soils.  Of Wales’ peat-lands, only 30% of the area is thought to be in good condition. Around 80% of Northern Ireland’s peat-lands have been degraded and need to be restored.

The Welsh Government State of Natural Resources Report, 2017