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What lives below?  The soil is alive!

At the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22nd May 2008, the European Commission organised in Bonn a public awareness event on soil and biodiversity: What lives below? The soil is alive!

The European Commission adopted, in September 2006, a Thematic Strategy for the protection of soil with the objective of preventing further soil degradation, preserving soil functions and restoring degraded soils to a level of functionality consistent at least with current and intended use.

The strategy identifies a certain number of soil degradation processes, including the loss of soil biodiversity, that should be prevented and minimised to the extent possible. It also underlines that there is little public awareness of the importance of soil protection.

With What lives below? The soil is alive!, the European Commission intended to emphasise the importance of soil biodiversity and communicate to the public in an engaging manner the amazing world of soil biodiversity, the crucial role played by soil biology in sustaining life on the planet, the wide range of goods and services a healthy soil provides us with, and hence the need to protect soil biodiversity and to use it in a more sustainable way.

The following presentations were made during the day:

Title of presentation Speaker
Soil biodiversity: the biological engine of the earth Professor Karl Ritz, Cranfield University, United Kingdom
Life underground: 24 hours in the life of a worm Professor Gabriele Broll, University of Vechta, Germany
Out of sight, out of mind?
How to measure what you can't see
Dipl.-Ing(FH) Paul Stegmann and Dipl.-Ing(FH) Kathrin Böhme, University of Applied Sciences, Osnabrück, Germany
From science to policy: how do we protect soil biodiversity? Mr Reinhard Gierse, European Land and Soil Alliance, City of Wuppertal, Germany

The handouts distributed on the day are available by clicking here.

A selection of the day's photographs can be viewed by clicking here.

More information on soil biodiversity is available on the web site of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.