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New atlas illustrates global soil biodiversity and threats to soil organisms

Katarina Hedlund is one of the authors of the first Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas mapping the soil biodiversity of the entire planet. Katarina is Assistant Director with responsibility for the undergraduate education at CEC, BECC PI and Professor at the Department of Biology at Lund University.
Katarina Hedlund. Photo: Inger Ekström
Katarina Hedlund. Photo: Inger Ekström

This unique Atlas provides a detailed analysis of soil organisms and the threats to soil biodiversity at global scale.  The Atlas was launched by the JRC (Joint Research Centre) at the 2nd UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi on May 25. 

Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas

From the press release: 

The Atlas describes soil as habitat for the diversity of organisms that live under our feet. At the same time, it draws attention to the threats to soil biodiversity, such as invasive species, pollution, intensive land use practices or climate change. The Atlas 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. Most importantly, 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 poor water 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.

(Click on image above to enlarge).

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.

Links and contact information

Find all information about the Atlas here (link to JRC European Soil Data Centre, ESDAC) 

Contact information to Katarina Hedlund can be found here (link to personal page)

 

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