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The third workshop of the International Network of Soil Information Institutions

The International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII) third workshop was held at FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy from 31 October to 1 November 2017.

The importance of INSII for developing the Global Soil Information System (GLOSIS) was reitereted together with FAO’s commitment to the Global Soil Partnership (GSP). Further emphasis was put on the task to develop the Global Soil Organic Carbon (GSOC) map by 5 December 2017.


Since its institution in 2015, the International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII) has been working hard towards the endorsement of the  Global Soil Information System (GLOSIS) to reinforce soil data and information (Pillar 4 of the GSP) availability and sharing at global level. 2016-2017 was a very successful biennium in terms of achieving and improving important tools, first of all the Global Soil Organic Carbon map, a country driven endeavor, which, among others, strongly contributes to define the area of degraded land under SDG indicator 15.3.1. Among GLOSIS data products – SoilSTAT - embedded in the FAOSTATs family, represents the next challenge. It will be part of the spatial data infrastructure for the exchange of web-based soil data services and will constitute the system for monitoring, forecasting and reporting periodically on the status of global soil resources. 

During the first day, INSII members reviewed advances in the execution of the Pillar 4 Implementation Plan. INSII discussions focused on the GSP Capacity Development Program To date, the programme covered 110 countries representing the 87% of the developing world. Progress towards the compilation of the Global Soil Organic Carbon map was reported.The product timeline, achieved milestones and planning for the last 30 days before the official launch were presented. INSII members were updated on the status of data collection procedures, deviations, data submission facility and on the difficulties encountered for the global uncertainty assessment. To be ready for the launch on the 5th of December 2017 data processing, harmonization and gap filling were still to be completed. As the preliminary results of metadata analysis showed big diversity in data sources, analytical methods, and mapping techniques used throughout the world, it was agreed that the GSOC map should not be considered as a baseline, but rather as the current status of soil information in the world. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of the GSOC data sharing framework allowed to make a map based on more than 900 000 field observations adopting a completely new country-driven approach. Furthermore, the technical documents, the trainings and the flexibility in mapping methods gave the opportunity for national experts to choose the most suitable technique depending on the specifics of their country’s nature and available data.  In the end, the newly-passed Soil Data Facility (ISRIC) work plan was submitted to the assembly together with the roadmap and work plan of INSII. Pillar 5 progresses and activities related to the development of GLOSIS were presented. INSII members confirmed their commitment to playing an active role during the execution of the activities planned under the Pillar 4 implementation plan.

In particular, the meeting considered the list of activities to be implemented during 2018:

  • Prepare a concept note for SoilSTAT including feasibility and design principles for soil monitoring. 
  • Develop technical specifications for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 databases;
  • Prepare of Version 2 of the GSOCmap and follow the recommendation from the GSOC17 Symposium in relation to establishing a working group for guidelines/protocol for the measurement, mapping, reporting, verifying and monitoring of SOC stocks;
  • Develop a proposal for the Global Soil Polygon coverage with a view to testing demand for the product;
  • Support the Regional Soil Partnerships and, in particular, determine the need for the development and hosting of national data products for countries that do not have sufficient capacity and resources;
  • Provide an update on progress to the 6th Plenary of the GSP in June 2018.

See more under the GSP Pillar 4 webpage | Report | Presentations | Photogallery