Unless we are gardeners or farmers, most of us pay little attention to soil, except to wipe it off our feet after a walk in the countryside or complain if it gets brought into the house. But it is time to get reacquainted with this precious non-renewable resource. Soil is in danger, and our lifestyle is largely to blame.
The great strength of soil comes from the life that exists within it – soil biodiversity – ranging from genes and species to communities. There is greater biodiversity in soil than upon it: in a single teaspoon of garden soil there may be thousands of species, millions of individuals and a hundred metres of fungal networks. Scientists estimate that at least about one-quarter of species on planet Earth live in soils. This is the factory of life. Its workers are micro-organisms, small and large invertebrates, small mammals, even plant roots – their workplace is the dark or dim layers of topsoil beneath grasslands, fields, forests and green spaces in towns.
A leaflet on Soil biodiversity – The factory of life is available in the following languages:
A brochure on The factory of life – Why soil biodiversity is so important is available in the following languages:
A full report on Soil biodiversity: functions, threats and tools for policy makers (English only) is available here.
For printed copies, please check availability at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/pubs/home.htm