New book surveys global importance of soil carbon
To coincide with World Soil Day , CABI is publishing Soil Carbon – a book that brings together the essential evidence and policy opportunities regarding the global importance of soil carbon for sustaining Earth’s life support system for humanity.
Soil Carbon is published at a time when the debate around the importance of soil in relation to climate change, ecology and food security is steadily growing. The management of healthy soil is becoming an increasingly important subject at a global level, to the extent that the UN has announced 2015 will be the International Year of Soils.
The UN notes that soil is fundamental to food, feed, fuel and fibre production, and to healthy ecosystems and populations. It points out that the largest store of terrestrial carbon is in the soil and, as such, its preservation may contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. A quarter of global biodiversity can be found below ground and is very poorly understood and needs urgent attention to understand how to improve soil management.
To meet humanity’s need for energy, food and water, global soil resources must be enhanced and maintained.
Key recommendations from the 75-strong author team drawn from 17 countries include:
- Stopping soil carbon losses from organic-rich soils such as peatlands and from drylands where soils are vulnerable due to low soil carbon content,
- Promoting soil carbon gains through active soil management in agricultural lands that have experienced historical losses of soil carbon,
- Greatly expanding soil and land management from local scale decisions to increased national and international actions to deliver large-scale benefits worldwide,
- Reducing the fragmentation in policy for soil and land management, which is often scattered between government sectors for agriculture, environment, energy and water resources, and
- A global research programme to attain optimal soil carbon contents, quantifying the resulting soil improvements and adapting soil carbon management to land and climate conditions around the world.
Covering the science and policy background for this critical natural resource, Soil Carbon describes land management options that improve soil carbon status and, therefore, increase the benefits that humans derive from the environment. Developed by an advisory committee of international leaders in soil science, the book is written by renowned global experts; it is the principal output from a SCOPE rapid assessment process project.
The book includes key sections on the science of soil, including the multiple benefits of soil carbon in, for example, mitigating climate change and preventing erosion, as well as how soil carbon can best be managed to derive these benefits. It reviews the monitoring and reporting of soil carbon and policy frameworks for managing this critical resource.