A new report shines a spotlight on biodiversity in soils, highlighting the contrast between the importance of soil organisms for food production and ecosystem services on the one hand, and the degree, on the other, to which that importance is underappreciated.
“There is increasing attention on the importance of biodiversity for food security and nutrition, especially above-ground biodiversity such as plants and animals,” the report reads. “However, less attention is being paid to the biodiversity beneath our feet, soil biodiversity. Yet, the rich diversity of soil organisms drives many processes that produce food, regenerate soil or purify water.”
Published for World Soils Day 2020, The State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity summarizes current knowledge of soil organisms, both micro- (bacteria, fungi, etc.) and macro- (earthworms, termites, etc.), and their roles in ecosystem functions and services. It also indicates gaps in that knowledge as areas for future research.
The report also identifies threats to soil biodiversity, and charts the trends in soil degradation. It presents specific information for 57 individual countries around the world.
More than 300 soil scientists and experts on soil biodiversity from around the world contributed to the report, which is published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“Soil biodiversity could constitute, if an enabling environment is built, a real nature-based solution to most of the problems humanity is facing today, from the field to the global scale,” the report reads. “Therefore efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity should include the vast array of soil organisms that make up more than 25% of the total biodiversity of our planet.”