Indicators for Monitoring Soil Biodiversity

A. Bispo, D. Cluzeau, R. Creamer, M. Dombos, U. Graefe, Paul Henning Krogh, J.P. Sousa, G. Peres, M. Rutgers, Anne Winding, J. Römbke

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    The European Union (EU) soil policy is described in general terms in the EU Soil Strategy (EC 2006a) and the legally binding elements of the policy are proposed in the draft Soil Framework Directive (SFD; EC 2006b). In these documents, eight main threats to soil were identified by the EU Commission. The EU FP6 project ENVASSO (Environmental Assessment of Soil for Monitoring) had the aim to design a single, integrated and operational set of EU-wide criteria and indicators to provide the basis for a harmonised comprehensive soil and land information system for monitoring in Europe. Here, a proposal is made for a set of suitable indicators for monitoring the decline in soil biodiversity (Bispo et al. 2007). These indicators were selected both from a literature review and an inventory of national monitoring programmes. Decline in soil biodiversity was defined as the reduction of forms of life living in soils (both in terms of quantity and variety) and of related functions, causing a deterioration of one or more soil functions or ecosystem services. Whereas literature review allows the identification of about 100 possible indicators, the inventory of existing monitoring networks shows that few indicators are actually measured.


    For monitoring application it was considered in ENVASSO that only three key indicators per soil stress were practical. For indicating biodiversity decline it was difficult to arrive at a small set of indicators due to the complexity of soil biota and functions. Therefore, three stringent criteria were applied: an indicator should 1) have a standardized sampling and/or measuring methodology; 2) be complementary to other indicators; and 3) be easy to interpret at both scientific and policy levels.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalIntegrated Environmental Assessment and Management
    Pages (from-to)717-719
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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