FAO Launches Soil Organic Carbon Map on World Soil Day
UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
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The annual observance of World Soil Day, on 5 December, took place under the theme ‘Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground'.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) launched a ‘Global Soil Organic Carbon Map' based on a million sampling points.

5 December 2017: The annual observance of World Soil Day, on 5 December, took place under the theme, ‘Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground.’ To mark the Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) released a ‘Global Soil Organic Carbon Map,’ noting the importance of soils to addressing climate change and preserving critical ecosystem functions.

In a press release, FAO highlighted that the world’s soils serve as the largest terrestrial carbon sink, and are key to mitigating climate change. Soil organic matter, primarily composed of carbon, also supports soil fertility and water filtration, ecosystem services that provide food and water security for mankind.

Globally, the first 30 cm of soil contains approximately 680 billion tons of carbon or just about twice the amount in the atmosphere.

The Map illustrates the amount of soil organic carbon stock in the first 30 cm of soil; shows which areas of high carbon storage need conservation; and details where further sequestration could be achieved. It contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 15.3.1, which defines the area of degraded land under the Goal addressing ‘life on land’ (SDG 15).

The map’s explanatory text highlights that it is “paving the way to establishing national soil information systems and represents the first step toward introducing a soil monitoring program.” The map, based on a million sampling points, shows that globally, the first 30 cm of soil contains approximately 680 billion tons of carbon or just about twice the amount in the atmosphere.

In her statement on the Day, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Cristiana Pașca Palmer, said that “Soil is a symbol of fertility. It is the origin of life. It is the basis for food production.” Her message touched on one of six key messages for the Day – that soils are essential to biodiversity preservation. Other messages highlighted the importance of soils to: reducing forced migration; mitigating and adapting to climate change; good health and nutrition; clean water; and food security. [GSP Press Release] [Global Soil Organic Carbon Map] [UN Press Release] [World Soil Day Website] [CBD Statement] [GSP Newsletter]


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