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After four years of intensive work since the 15th World Congress of Soil Science took place in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1994, three publications have been prepared on behalf of the Working Group Reference Base of the International Society of Soil Science, which highlight the present-day state of the art of tile 'World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB)'. The publications comprise:

1. World Reference Base for Soil Resources: Introduction.
2. World Reference Base for Soil Resources: Atlas.
3. World Reference Base for Soil Resources.

The first publication aims to serve as a first entry into the knowledge of soil diversity and soil distribution, accessible to disciplines other than 'soil science sensu stricto' and to a wider public. The second is an atlas providing an overview of the distribution of the reference soil groups in the world. The third one, presented here, can be seen as a technical manual, specifically for soil scientists. It gives the definitions and diagnostic criteria of the soil horizons, soil properties and soil materials, and contains a key for classifying the reference soil groups and their qualifiers.

The publications have been made possible by the sustained efforts of a large group of expert authors, and the cooperation and logistic support of ISSS, ISRIC and FAO.

It is hoped that these publications will contribute to the understanding of soil science in the public debate and in the scientific community.

J.A. Deckers (Chairman), O.C. Spaargaren (Vice Chairman) and F. O. Nachtergaele (Secretary)
ISSS Working Group Reference Base

L.R. Oldeman, Director
International Soil Reference and Information Centre

R Brinkman, Director
Land and Water Development Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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