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Protect soils to guarantee future of mankind

Anne Glover speaking to the ENSA meeting
"Soil is a finite resource. It plays a key role in the supply of food, water and in our climate. We need to raise awareness of the value of soil and protect it for the future.

Why is soil not protected in the same way as air and water? And why does it not receive the attention and respect that is given to our iconic plants and animals? It is becoming increasingly apparent that the world’s soils are crucial to our future: to feed an increasing population, to help store carbon that otherwise might leak out into the atmosphere and to maintain vital water reserves. Should our soil be used to produce food or fuel?

These issues are central to the European Network on Soil Awareness 2013 conference, hosted by the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen with high profile speakers from the European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Willie Towers, soil scientist at the James Hutton Institute and one of the organisers of the conference, said: “Soil scientists have tried for many years to convince society at large, including our politicians, that soil is one of our vital national resources. This conference described initiatives from around the world to help raise awareness of soils often using novel and imaginative techniques.

Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission, highlighted the role played by soils in the support of life on our planet and in the global climate system, as well in the provision of ecosystem services. She also reviewed current thinking on soils from a European perspective, including how the EU can contribute to meet a goal of zero net soil degradation.

Professor Glover commented: “Soil is a finite resource. It plays a key role in the supply of food, water and in our climate. We need to raise awareness of the value of soil and protect it for the future.

Ronald Vargas from the FAO outlined education and awareness activities of the Global Soil Partnership, which over 100 countries have endorsed and signed up to. Issues of international governance of soils were highlighted by Dr Helaina Black from the James Hutton Institute and also the UK representative on the Intergovernmental Panel on Soils.

Over the two day meeting, delegates will be treated to an array of different approaches in communicating the use and value of soils to society from educational materials for school children to farmer friendly DVDs and distinctive soil art.

The diversity of soils in Scotland is to be demonstrated through a visit to the National Soil Archive, which holds over 43,000 soil samples collected since 1934 from 13,000 locations across Scotland, and through the Virtual Landscape Theatre which enables people to explore how changes to soil use and management affect landscapes. Both are held at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen and supported by the Scottish Government.

Notes to editors

The European Network on Soil Awareness meeting is being held at the James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen from 19-20 September 2013.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

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Printed from /news/protect-soils-guarantee-future-mankind on 21/04/19 11:21:59 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.