Global Soil Partnership

Soil Biodiversity | Dr. Diana Wall Interview

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP), had the pleasure to interview Dr Diana H. Wall, one of the world key experts in soil biodiversity. Dr Diana Wall is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the keynote speaker for the Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity (GSOBI)—which is postponed to 19 - 22 April 2021—and the Director & Professor of Colorado State University, School of Global Environmental Sustainability and the department of Biology in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr Diana Wall is the 2013 Laureate of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. 

The online interview was conducted through the Zoom platform.


Diana, what are the main constraints and obstacles to considering soil biodiversity as a nature-based solution to today’s global challenges? 

Soils are the foundation of food production and many essential ecosystem services. Soil organisms perform many different ecosystem functions to support all-natural systems and human well-being. Due to the vast issues in today’s global challenges, it is difficult to envision the connections to soil biodiversity. 

The lack of connection among scientists, the public and understanding the life in soil and above ground has become a global issue critically affecting the future. It is essential to establish a better communication of what is happening with the soil organisms that are working to provide the earth with fertile soil, climate regulation, and support our lives above ground. 

What could be the solution to address these obstacles and how to implement them? 

On a scientific level, the knowledge of soil biodiversity must be integrated into the global challenges. For example, effective communication must be established among the many scientists studying different parts of soil biodiversity science. Also, the lack of interconnectivity between groups of scientists studying soils and soil biodiversity limits the transfer of knowledge. Additionally, the knowledge of soil biodiversity must reach the public and policymakers using the tools of molecular and evolutionary biology to understand who these organisms are around the world, how they differ and what they do for humans. 

So far, networks, global soil biodiversity initiatives, and the FAO-GSP soil biodiversity symposium are effective tools to increase the transfer of knowledge and encourage communication among the different scientists and the public. The State of knowledge of soil biodiversity - Status, challenges and potentialities – to be published this year - will also help scientists and policymakers to find the gaps and further understand soil biodiversity.