A 'hot off the press' copy of the Soil Atlas of Africa, coordinated by the JRC, was presented today by European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard at the meeting between the European Commission and the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa. For the first time ever, this atlas collects vital information on African soils and highlights the importance of this non-renewable resource. With its stunning full colour maps and illustrations, it explains in a comprehensible and visually appealing way the diversity of soil across the African continent and explains why it is so important to preserve this precious resource.
Healthy and fertile soils are the cornerstones of food security, key environmental services, social cohesion and the economies of most African countries. Up to 98% of all calories consumed in Africa originate from the soil resources of the continent. Unfortunately, soil in Africa tends to reach public awareness only when it fails to feed the people living from it.
The aim of the atlas is to raise awareness at all levels – from politicians to the general public - of the significance of soil to life in Africa. Coordinated by the European Commission's in-house science service, in collaboration with the African Union and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, it compiles the contributions of dozens of soil experts from Africa and Europe. It is a much-needed source of information for policy makers and researchers and will be the basis for a pan-African assessment on the state of soil resources to be launched at the conference of the African Soil Science Society in Kenya in October.
The Atlas explains the origin and functions of soil, describes the different soil types and their relevance to both local and global issues. It also discusses the principal threats to soil and the steps being taken to protect soil resources.
Some key facts about African soil presented in the Atlas: