We are using the world’s soils as if they were inexhaustible, continually withdrawing from an account, but never paying in. For it takes several thousand years to build a thin layer of fertile topsoil, but only an hour of heavy rain to lose it. The average European needs 1.3 hectares – two football pitches – to produce all of the food and other products he or she consumes each year. That is about six times more than is available to each Bangladeshi. Almost 60 percent of the area consumed by Europeans lies outside the European Union.
Global demand for food, fodder and biofuels is on the rise. So too are land prices. In many regions, the struggle for secure land rights is a struggle for survival for individuals and communities. The global significance of soils demands global responses. 2015 is the International Year of Soils. In this year, the United Nations wants to further the goal of soil protection. This Soil Atlas shows what can succeed and why the soil should concern us all.
The Soil Atlas is available in a printed version and available for download (PDF). All texts and graphics can be used under the Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-SA. The graphics are available as a seperate download (ZIP) as well.