International Scientists Gather at Colorado State University to Plan First Assessment of World’s Soil Biodiversity

Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability or SoGES, which is the secretariat of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, will team with the European Commission – Joint Research Centre to host an international workshop of scientists and policymakers who will plan for an unusual challenge: a scientific assessment of earth’s soil biodiversity.

There is growing awareness that soil biodiversity is a key component of sustainability issues such as soil security, desertification, food security, water quality, biodiversity loss and climate change.

“The Global Soil Biodiversity Assessment will engage a worldwide network of researchers to assess data on the present diversity in soils across continents, determine where the ‘hot spots’ of soil diversity are and put this information in a framework for managing soils for the future,” said University Distinguished Professor Diana Wall, SoGES director and science director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. “This ambitious undertaking is based on increasing scientific recognition of the importance of biodiversity for sustaining soils and society.”

Life in soil – earthworms and microbes, for example – provides many benefits to ecosystems by maintaining soil structure and soil nutrients, and as food for wildlife. One product of the Assessment will be a Soil Biodiversity Atlas that will be useful to managers and policymakers.

The Opening Session and Panel Discussion, “Soil Security: Is Biodiversity the Missing Link?”, will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. February 26 at the Lory Student Center Theatre. The session, which is free and open to the public, will feature prominent biodiversity scientists explaining new tools and evidence that led many international scientists and policymakers to call for an assessment.

The opening session schedule:

9 a.m.: Welcome and Introductory Remarks by Rick Miranda, CSU Provost
9:15: Welcome by GSBI Scientific Chair: Professor Diana H. Wall, Science Director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative and Director of SoGES
9:30: “The Importance of the EU Soil Biodiversity Atlas and Assessment” – Luca Montanarella, DG, European Commission-Joint Research Centre, Italy
10:45: “Advances and Challenges in Soil Biodiversity” – Richard Bardgett, Professor of Ecology, Manchester University, UK
11:20: “Managing Soil Biota for Food Security” – Johan Six, ETH, Switzerland
12:00-1:00 p.m.: Panel Discussion on “Global Science Policy and the Soils Challenge.”

• Jim Cooney, CSU Vice Provost for International Programs (panel moderator)
• Luca Montanarella, DG, European Commission-Joint Research Centre. Italy
• Katarina, Hedlund, Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden
• Edmundo Barrios, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya
• Gerlinde de Deyn, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

For more information visit the website,, or contact Kelly Ramirez, Executive Director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative at (970) 491-7647 or