The first ever comprehensive overview of the soils of Latin America and the Caribbean, coordinated by the JRC, was presented today at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago.
This is the latest in a series of JRC soil atlases and the result of a fruitful collaboration with leading soil scientists in Europe, Central and South America and the Caribbean. It explains and highlights the importance of soil, a precious non-renewable resource which provides food, fodder and fuel for 580 million people.
The atlas emphasises the complex relationship between climate and land use and underlines the role of soil in food security. The soils of South and Central America also produce large amounts of agricultural commodities that are exported to other countries – around half of the global production of coffee, sugar cane and soya are cultivated in this area. In addition, Latin America's soils host an important share of the world's biodiversity.
More than half of the 576 million hectares of arable land of Latin America are estimated to be affected by degradation processes, notably in South America and Mesoamerica. The main causes are change in land use (especially deforestation), over-exploitation, climate change and social inequality. The atlas presents a number of strategies for soil preservation and conservation.
The first edition, published in Spanish, is entitled: el Atlas de suelos de América Latina y el Caribe. Portuguese and English versions will soon follow.