UN soil report paints poor picture

The UN FAO marked World Soil Day on 5 December with the launch of its first ever report on the state of global soil biodiversity. The report, The State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity, examines the potential of soil organisms in ensuring sustainable agri-food systems and mitigating climate change.

“Soil biodiversity and sustainable soil management is a prerequisite for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo. “Therefore, data and information on soil biodiversity, from the national to the global level, are necessary in order to efficiently plan management strategies on a subject that is still poorly known.”

According to the report, despite the fact biodiversity loss is at the forefront of global concerns, biodiversity below ground is not being given the prominence it deserves and needs to be fully considered when planning how best to boost sustainable development.

“We hope that the knowledge contained in this report will facilitate the assessment of the state of soil biodiversity as an integral part of national- and regional-level biodiversity reporting and any soil surveys,” Ms. Semedo added.

The UN says that the report highlights the need to promote the necessary shift to include biological indicators of soil health along with physical and chemical ones. ‘According to the report, the adoption of sustainable soil management practices by farmers, as a basic premise for preserving soil biodiversity, remains low due to the lack of technical support, provision of incentives and enabling environments, and needs to be scaled up,’ it said in a release.

Photo caption: Local school children water a vegetable garden at their Primary School in Laos.

Photo source: FAO/Manan Vatsyayana

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