The ESDAC (European Soil Data Centre, an organism from JRC (Joint Reseach Center) and GSBI (Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative) publish the first-ever Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas that maps the soil biodiversity of the entire planet. It was launched at the 2nd UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi on 25 May 2016.
The Atlas describes soil as habitat for the diversity of organisms that live under our fee, draws attention to the threats to soil biodiversity, such as invasive species, pollution, intensive land use practices or climate change, and provides current solutions for a sustainable management of soils.
It was coordinated by the JRC and the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative with more than 70 contributing organisations and several hundred individual contributions. It illustrates the diversity of soil organisms, explains their geographical and temporal distribution, the ecosystem functions and services provided by soil biota. Also, it draws attention to the myriad of threats to soil biodiversity. These include inappropriate land management practices (e.g. deforestation, land take for infrastructure development), agricultural systems, over-grazing, forest fires and poorwater management (both irrigation and drainage). Other practices such as land conversion from grassland or forest to cropped land result in rapid loss of soil carbon, which indirectly enhances global warming.
The Atlas shows that mismanaging soils could exacerbate the effects of climate change, jeopardise agricultural production, compromise the quality of ground water and worsen pollution. It also proposes solutions to safeguard soil biodiversity through the development of policies that directly or indirectly target soil health, leading to a more sustainable use.
How to obtain the atlas
Digital version of the atlas is available for free download via the JRC, the GSBI and EU Bookshop. Printed copies can be purchased from the EU Bookshop.
How to obtain maps from the Atlas
From this site, also 2 maps are available in GIS format: the “Soil Biodiversity (index)” map from pp. 90-91 and the “Potential Threats to Soil Biodiversity (index)” map from pp. 134-135. They can be downloaded (after registration) from http://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/global-soil-biodiversity-maps-0.