Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative formed to safeguard the world’s soils

Network News Fall 2011, Vol. 24 No. 2
Network News

Concerned about the future of soils for our planet, U.S. scientists and their international partners recently launched a Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI), which will be based at Colorado State University. The initiative, which is open to all parties interested in sustaining soils, including scientists, policymakers, and the public, was formed in response to growing international concern over the status of the world’s soils. It is also recognition that soil health, exemplified by the life it sustains, is key to sustaining food production, ecosystem maintenance, control of global atmosphere, and climate warming.

The GSBI can serve as a means of connecting LTER researchers and integrate many aspects of LTER research on soils and biodiversity as well as add to other global studies. The flow of information (e.g., about the types of experiments needed to address questions across global biomes, collaborative monitoring of networks, and scientific measurements of soil biodiversity in other continents) likewise could inform LTER and global researchers. For example, information on the status of various groups of taxa, such as tardigrades (see at LTER sites that might be affected by changes in soil moisture, could be extended to global scales.

The initiative will also contribute knowledge on biodiversity to policymaking, such as the new Global Soil Partnership recently signed in Rome, Italy, (see, which brings together three international agreements concerned with sustaining soils: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention on Desertification and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. That partnership will be operated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

As envisaged, the GSBI will make better use of the current knowledge on soil biodiversity and ecosystem services rather than start new research. Its goals are to:

  • Provide evidence and examples of possible solutions where soil biodiversity and helps makes a difference for human-well being and helps policy makers with their agenda;
  • Exchange of knowledge and questions from users and stakeholders at an open science conference in order to set agendas;
  • Provide a central forum for input to IPBES working groups on soil biodiversity and ecosystem services. A framework of agreed soil biodiversity and ecosystem services will be identified;
  • Provide a central focus to the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) for incorporating scientific knowledge on soil biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Sponsor follow-up workshops to identify case studies where integrating soil biodiversity knowledge might improve sustainable management of soils and the ecosystem services. The results will help address the GSP’s mission of ‘sustainable management of soil resources for food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation’
  • Sponsor working groups to assess and integrate results across disciplines that can be used to:
    1. Develop scenarios of how climate change or desertification will alter services in relation to (land) management types and types of biomes
    2. Identify gaps needed for qualifying/quantifying global soil biodiversity and relating it to ecosystem functioning models

For more information please visit Parties that are interested can fill out and submit the form under “Contact.”