Background and Objectives

Background and Objectives


Soil protection is a highly emphasized topic in Europe despite the absence of a European Soil Framework Directive. Many soil functions leading to ecosystem services are biotically driven, so that soil protection requires coordinated efforts for the evaluation of soil biota throughout Europe. However, without proper baseline data and reliable tools for soil-state assessment, it is currently difficult, if not impossible, to efficiently address such goals. 

Procedures for establishing baselines and assessing current states of soil biodiversity must be based on existing data and knowledge, preferably accumulated from national or local databanks. Throughout Europe abundant soil biodiversity information exists, whose common potential has yet to be collated or explored. 

Main Objectives

The main goal of this Action is to create the structures, capacities and procedures necessary for expanding an existing data platform on soil fauna (“Edaphobase“) into an open, publicly available data warehouse for Europe-wide soil biodiversity data as well as for developing tools that use and evaluate this data. The Action focusses on combining available soil biota’s distributional & trait data with indispensable environmental metadata while integrating data on soil microorganisms and soil fauna. The activities follow an information flow from data providers to data users: 

  • Collate, harmonize, quality check and curate existing data according to agreed upon standardized terminologies and ontologies, data quality-control procedures and data-upload protocols.
  • Integrate data on ecological traits for use as proxies for soil biota’s functionalities to gain insight into functional relationships in soils and to predict the state of biotically driven ecosystem services.
  • Based on the applied needs of policy, management and regulatory agencies, adapt specific data-modelling algorithms for developing assessment tools that can recognize and visualize (i.e. on maps) functional biological characteristics of soils related to type, use and management practices.

Use and Impact

The soil biodiversity data infrastructure can be used to operationalize and ensure more efficient and knowledge-based assessment of soil biodiversity, functions, quality and health as well as determine and delineate ecosystem services, baselines, relationships and set the basis for forecasting changes.