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Global Assessment on Soil Biodiversity

17 April 2012

GLOBAL - The Department for Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems at BBSRC-funded Rothamsted Research is launching a new Global Scientific Assessment on Soil Biodiversity as a result of an international meeting organised by the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI in London, England, March 2012).

At the meeting, scientists and policy makers agreed that advances in understanding of the living organisms in soil and what they do for people and society can be used to help manage and sustain soils for the future.

These provisions include clean air, pure water, nutrients for crops, sequestration of carbon, and regulation of pests and disease; therefore a Global Soil Biodiversity Assessment (GSBA) will gather data and examples of how soil biodiversity and its services can be measured and will be the core of GSBI's future action plan that will be presented at Rio+20.

Growing international concern by scientists, policy makers and the public over the status of the world's soils and increased recognition that the life in soil is key to sustaining our food production, ecosystem maintenance and control of global atmosphere and climate warming led to the formation of the GSBI September 20, 2011 during the conference on Soil Science in a Changing World, in Wageningen, The Netherlands. It is a collaborative initiative brought forth by representatives from each of five institutions:

  • Professor Diana Wall, Colorado State University, USA
  • Professor Wim van der Putten, Netherlands Institute of Ecology/Wageningen Centre for Soil Ecology
  • Professor Richard Bardgett, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK
  • Professor Johan Six, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Luca Montanarella, European Commission Joint Research Commission

The GSBI, which is open to all interested in sustaining soils, will serve as a primary means of informing and supporting the newly announced Global Soil Partnership signed in Rome September 2012, which brings together three international agreements interested in sustaining soils: the Convention on Biological Diversity: the UN Convention on Desertification, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and will be operated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

As concluded in the London Meeting, the primary focus of the GSBI for the future will be the Global Soil Biodiversity Assessment. Participants defined four additional priorities for GSBI:

Informing policy

  • Guiding standardisation of methods and data synthesis for soil biodiversity and its services
  • Identifying key scientific challenges for soil biodiversity and its functioning
  • Providing management options to deliver optimal ecosystem services

The GSBI will hold its next open meeting on April 18, 2012 at the Latin American Congress of Soil Science in Argentina.

TheCropSite News Desk

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