The soil experts of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission's in-house science service, have just published the first ever comprehensive overview of the soils of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Portuguese language. The atlas was coordinated by the European Commission's JRC and is the result of a fruitful collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and leading soil scientists in Europe, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Through colourful maps and illustrations, the atlas explains in a simple and clear manner the diversity of soil across Central and South America and the Caribbean. It highlights the vital importance of a natural non-renewable resource which provides food, fodder and fuel for 580 million people. It shows the delicate relationships between soils and the functions that they provide. It raises awareness of the inter-relationships with climate and land use while illustrating the role of soil in food security, particularly in relation to climate change. Latin America's soils also support some of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, soils have to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population. More than half of the 576 million hectares of arable land of Latin America are estimated to be affected by degradation processes, notably in South America and Mesoamerica. The main causes are changes in land use (especially deforestation), over-exploitation, climate change and social inequality.
The atlas presents a number of strategies for soil preservation and conservation. Free of charge, it is designed to reach the general public, the education sector and policymakers that deal with environmental, agricultural and social issues. The first edition was published in Spanish in 2014, the English version followed in 2015.
The "Atlas de Solos da América Latina e do Caribe", the Portuguese version of the Soil Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean, was presented at the 21st World Congress of Soil Science "Soil Science: Beyond Food and Fuel" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 13 August 2018.
At the event, JRC soil scientist Panos Panagos presented his findings in a session on soil erosion modelling and a session on the economic and legal dimension of soil ecosystem services. His session on "Soil erosion modelling – Global Alliance" follows a highly successful series of soil erosion modelling workshops organised by the JRC across the globe in the past two years. The JRC's scientific soil-related work was furthermore displayed in a well-attended booth.
- Publication date
- 16 August 2018