The HWSD is a 30 arc-second raster database with over 16000 different soil mapping units that combines existing regional
and national updates of soil information worldwide (SOTER, ESD, Soil Map of China, WISE) with the information contained
within the 1:5 000 000 scale FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World (FAO, 19711981).
The raster database consists of 21600 rows and 43200 columns, which are linked to harmonized soil property data. The use
of a standardized structure allows for the linkage of the attribute data with the raster map to display or query the composition
in terms of soil units and the characterization of selected soil parameters (organic Carbon, pH, water storage capacity,
soil depth, cation exchange capacity of the soil and the clay fraction, total exchangeable nutrients, lime and gypsum contents,
sodium exchange percentage, salinity, textural class and granulometry).
ESDB - European Soil Database
CHINA - China soil map
SOTER - Soil and Terrain database
SOTWIS - Regional SOTER databases
WISE - World Inventory of Soil Emission Potential database
DSMW - Digital Soil Map of the World
The HWSD is of immediate use in the context of the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol for soil carbon measurements
and for the FAO/IIASA Global Agro-ecological Assessment study (GAEZ 2008), for which HWSD was developed in the first
The HWSD contributes sound scientific knowledge for planning sustainable expansion of agricultural production to achieve
food security and provides information for national and international policymakers in addressing emerging problems of land
competition for food production, bio-energy demand and threats to biodiversity.
Further expansion and update of the HWSD is foreseen for the near future, notably with the excellent databases held in
the USA: Natural Resources Conservation Service US General Soil Map (STATSGO) http://www.ncgc.nrcs.usda.gov/products/datasets/statsgo, Canada: Agriculture and AgriFood Canada: The National Soil Database (NSDB) http://sis.agr.gc.ca/cansis/nsdb and Australia: CSIRO, aclep, natural Heritage Trust and National Land and Water Resources Audit: ASRIS