News Biodiversity, Climate, Environment

Soils are increasingly recognised to have an important role, both for human wellbeing and for the global climate. There are clear benefits for people and the planet in the sustainable transformation of land management to practices that reduce soil degradation, mitigate erosion, and maintain or restore soil organic carbon, nutrients, and soil water.

Yet there are significant knowledge gaps on forest soil processes and soil monitoring is not sufficiently harmonised, which limits the EU’s ability to soil-related ecosystem services and to reach climate policy targets.

HoliSoils (Holistic management practices, modelling and monitoring for European forest soils) is a new EU H2020 project which will provide an improved, integrated, and harmonised monitoring and modelling framework for forest soils across Europe.

The 4.5-year project, which kicked off in May 2021, will identify and test soil management practices aiming to mitigate climate change and sustain provision of various ecosystem services essential for human livelihoods and wellbeing. HoliSoils incorporates novel methodologies and expert knowledge on analytical techniques, data sharing, model development, and soil properties and biodiversity. It will develop tools for soil monitoring and for greenhouse gas (GHG) assessment in the land use, land-use change & forestry (LULUCF) sector. It will also enhance efficiency of GHG mitigation actions, and improve numerical forecasting of soil-based mitigation, adaptation, and ecosystem services.

Through a collaborative, multi-actor approach, the multidisciplinary consortium brings leading expertise on soil analysis and databases, development of advanced analytical techniques, complex system modelling, digital soil mapping, soil ecology, disturbance ecology, forest and GHG inventories, social sciences, and communications. From the outset, HoliSoils will engage actively with its diverse stakeholders, including forest owners and managers, industry actors, forest extension services, a certification body, forest and soil researchers, climate policy support and greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory experts, and policymakers.

HoliSoils is coordinated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), and is made up of a consortium of 20 project partners, 18 from across Europe with partners from South America (Uruguay) and Asia (Japan) broadening the perspective globally.

”Luke coordinates the project and also leads work package 4 titled ‘Holistic sustainable soil & forest management strategies’. In this work packages different climate smart forest management practices will be evaluated and their impact to soil carbon and functioning is quantified”, says Aleksi Lehtonen, Associate professor from Luke.

HoliSoils coordinator, Research professor Raisa Mäkipää, stated that she is “really excited about the multidisciplinary work initiated by the HoliSoils consortium. We have such wide expertise from soil scientists to mathematicians and social scientists that we can address timely and challenging global problems on sustainable soil management and mitigation of climate change.”


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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101000289.