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What is the International Network of Black Soils and how does it work?

Black soils are of particular global importance due to their relevance for food security and climate change mitigation. At the same time, their significant soil organic carbon (SOC) content makes them prone to severe degradation (as underlined in the Status of the World’s Soil Resources report). 


Considering the great importance of these soils, it has become of crucial importance to promote their protection and sustainable use and disclosing their potential over the longer term to support food security while simultaneously mitigating climate change.

During the 5th session of the GSP Plenary Assembly, the International Network of Black Soils (INBS) was endorsed as a platform for countries with black soils to discuss common technical issues related to the conservation and sustainable management of these soils. The network aims to develop a report on the global status, current production and challenges in black soils, fostering collaboration among countries towards promoting the sustainable use and management of black soils, and identifying relevant research gaps. During the meeting, Mr. Guiqing Han from the Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences in China was appointed INBS chair, following his nomination by China.

Black Soils refer to many different soil types that have:

  • a well-structured, dark coloured surface horizon due to their enrichment of high-quality humus down to a depth of more than 40 cm - mostly 60 to 80 cm;
  • a high base saturation (i.e. a high percentage of the cation exchange capacity is occupied by the basic cations Ca2+, Mg2+ and K+) and;
  • a moderate to high organic matter content.

Countries with black soils have already started to  join the network through their national soil institutions (i.e. Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Hungary, India, Mexico, Mongolia, Paraguay, Romania, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA, etc.). Other countries, such as Germany, highlighted that they have black soils and expressed their interest to join the INBS. The network should work closely with the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) of the GSP, which will provide the necessary scientific advice and support. The GSP Secretariat will facilitate the implementation of the agreed activities.

Related link:

INBS webpage | Launching video | Flickr photogallery | Presentations