Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services. Soil ecosystems | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
December 2018
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Soil ecosystem services, as all ecosystem services (ESS), are fundamental for meeting societal needs such as food and energy provision and for overcoming societal challenges like climate change mitigation and adaptation. The MAES (Mapping and Assessment on Ecosystems and their Services) Soil Pilot aims to increase awareness on the importance of soil functions and related ecosystem services and to show their value. The pilot shows the need for protection, management and restoration of soil ecosystems and the need to make a more sustainable and efficient use of it. In the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 20201, the MAES Soil Pilot provides practical guidance and capacity building to the EU institutions and Member States on methods and tools for assessing soil ecosystem services.

The process of mapping and assessing soil ecosystems and their services starts with assessing ecosystem condition. Ecosystem condition determines the capacity of an ecosystem to yield services.
Soil pressures influence the ecosystem condition and thus the potential to deliver services. Methods and data availability vary between ESS. Indicators for ecosystem condition are collected in MAES pilots for six ecosystem types: 1) Forest ecosystems, 2) Cropland and grassland ecosystems, 3) Freshwater ecosystems, 4) Marine ecosystems, 5) Urban ecosystems and 6) Soil ecosystems.
The current report is developed in the context of the latter ecosystem. This report provides the most comprehensive overview of soil ESS. All ESS included in this report meet the criteria of being goods or services that are provided by the ecosystem, used by humans, and contributing to human well-being. A number of the soil ESS are often not considered in general ESS assessments or in soil ESS assessments.

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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.


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