(Bilbao, 3 June 2021) Soils are increasingly recognised to have an important role, both for human wellbeing and for the global climate. There are clear benefits for people and the planet in the sustainable transformation of land management to practices that reduce soil degradation, mitigate erosion, and maintain or restore soil organic carbon, nutrients, and soil water. From maintaining biodiversity to providing ecosystem services, good forest management practices start in the soil.
Yet there are significant knowledge gaps on forest soil processes and soil monitoring is not sufficiently harmonised, which limits the EU’s ability to maintain soil-related ecosystem services and to reach climate policy targets.
The 4.5-year project, which kicked off in May 2021, will identify and test soil management practices aiming to mitigate climate change and sustain provision of various ecosystem services essential for human livelihoods and wellbeing. HoliSoils incorporates novel methodologies and expert knowledge on analytical techniques, data sharing, model development, and soil properties and biodiversity. It will develop tools for soil monitoring and for greenhouse gas (GHG) assessment in the land use, land-use change & forestry (LULUCF) sector. It will also enhance efficiency of GHG mitigation actions, and improve numerical forecasting of soil-based mitigation, adaptation, and ecosystem services.
Through a collaborative, multi-actor approach, the multidisciplinary consortium brings leading expertise on soil analysis and databases, development of advanced analytical techniques, complex system modelling, digital soil mapping, soil ecology, disturbance ecology, forest and GHG inventories, social sciences, and communications. From the outset, HoliSoils will engage actively with its diverse stakeholders, including forest owners and managers, industry actors, forest extension services, a certification body, forest and soil researchers, climate policy support and greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory experts, and policymakers.
HoliSoils is coordinated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), and is made up of a consortium of 20 project partners, 18 from across Europe with partners from South America (Uruguay) and Asia (Japan) broadening the perspective globally. Ikerbasque Research Prof. Jorge Curiel Yuste (BC3) will be leading the research on the resilience and vulnerability of European forest soils to natural disturbances. The overall aim is to advance understanding of the responses of European forest soils to natural disturbances, such as summer drought-induced tree mortality coupled with autumn thunderstorm, forest fires, bark beetle outbreaks, and windthrows, by focusing on the mechanisms that regulate the resistance and resilience of soils to disturbances. For BC3 researcher the importance of this projects lays in the fact that “soil conservation is essential for the long-term sustainability of forest growth, but both anthropic pressure and climate change are threatening the future conservation of forest soils”, therefore “the results obtained from activities carried out during the course of this project will be key both to substantially improve our ability to predict their vulnerability and to improve strategies. and policies for the conservation of European forest soils in the face of a growing anthropic and climatic impact”
HoliSoils coordinator, Raisa Mäkipää, stated that she is “really excited about the multidisciplinary work initiated by the HoliSoils consortium. We have such wide expertise from soil scientists to mathematicians and social scientists that we can address timely and challenging global problems on sustainable soil management and mitigation of climate change.”
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101000289.