International Year of Soils logo

The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils, and all around the world people will be celebrating and raising awareness on how important healthy soils are for healthy human life. Take a moment to learn about and acknowledge the importance of our soil...

Boasting more organisms in a teaspoon than there are people living on Earth is only one fascinating aspect of soil. Many people are unaware of just how alive our soils are and how much they are regarded by scientists as the 'dynamic skin' of the planet Earth.

Soils are slow to form and it can take a thousand years to create a centimetre of topsoil. Unfortunately environmental degradation is having a significant toll on this precious soil resource with an estimated two thirds of all soils on Earth now degraded in some form. The United Nations is encouraging everyone to manage their soils sustainably rather than attempting to restore degraded soil which can be expensive, often uneconomic and not always possible to achieve.

A former President of the United States of America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said “The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself”. While this may seem like a bold statement, food security in the modern era is strongly linked to the quality of our soil. A challenge to all is to take a moment and consider how our soils provide the surface we live on, our building materials, and how our soils are involved in producing food, fibre and energy.

images of soil

Healthy soils provide many benefits to humankind.

President of Soil Science Australia Tim Overheu explains that "soils are often called a neglected or forgotten resource because they are often out of sight and hidden beneath a building, a road, a footpath or vegetation."

Tim explains that "healthy soils provide clean water by acting as a filter for contaminants and they are the basis for plants to grow and provide clean air. If we keep our soils healthy they can store water and reduce flooding. Soils can also store organic carbon and slow the release of carbon into the atmosphere, and soils have a role in buffering climate change and rising temperatures."

Fundamentally, healthy soils are the foundation of life and in 2015, the International Year of Soils, we all have a special opportunity to celebrate our soils and to encourage all humankind to invest in sustainable soil management.

MAJGEN Jeffery with soil

Soil Advocate, MAJGEN Michael Jeffery, is
  passionate about soil health.

The National Advocate for Soil Health and Soils for Life Chairman, Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO(Mil), CVO, MC (Retd), articulates, "My vision is for healthy, well managed soils, which are resilient to stressors such as climate change and able to support and sustain productive ecological and agricultural systems over the long term. We need to communicate to the wider community, including our children, the vital importance of improving soil condition and demonstrate how by so doing, it benefits us all".

As citizens of this planet, let's all pledge to do more to protect this important yet forgotten resource and remember that a healthy life is not possible without healthy soils.

Learn more about soil throughout this website and in the excellent International Year of Soils Edition of the Soil Science in Australia magazine. To find out what is happening to celebrate the International Year of Soil in Australia visit the Soil Science Australia website at www.soilscienceaustralia.com.au.


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