In the context of the European Union’s Soil Thematic Strategy, policy makers require easy access to soil data and information of various types and scales to assess the state of soils at European level. To satisfy this need, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency decided to establish the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC), located at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. The ESDAC is one of ten environmental data centres that have been established in support of policy development, implementation and monitoring by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment. The ESDAC, located at http://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu
, has become the focal point for soil data and information at European Union level by hosting a series of soil products and web-based tools that allow access to the data. The establishment and the evaluation of harmonised databases should facilitate improved soil protection measures. The ESDAC supports an increasing number of customers from the European Commission and Member States. They range from policy makers, public organizations and local authorities, and public administrations to research institutes, technical institutions,
universities and schools, modeling groups, research projects and citizens. Most of the datasets are used for research purposes (Modeling, FP7 projects, PhDs, etc). ESDAC data and information are highly relevant for the development, implementation and assessment of a number of EU policy areas: agriculture, soil protection, bio-energy, climate change, water protection, food security, nature protection, spatial planning, development policy, health, research and sustainable development.