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World Soil Day, December 5th

NGO Sustainable Soils and FAO celebrate World Soil Day in Chile

WSD celebrations in Santiago, Chile

Together with various government, academia and civil society actors, the seminar "Caring for the planet starts from the ground" was held on the occasion of World Soil Day 2017. In order to disseminate the importance of soil and the sustainable management of its resources, a group of Chilean experts presented the current state of soil in Chile and the challenges to halt erosion, loss of organic carbon and salinization of soils. During World Soil Day celebrations, FAO presented the most complete map of carbon stocks in soils ever produced, compiled thanks to the participation of almost all countries of the world. Finally, it was agreed to promote actions to sensitize the different actors on the importance of protecting and ensuring sustainable soil management through the active promotion of practices and systems of integrated, healthy and productive agriculture and forestry.

The Global Soil Organic Carbon map shows that worldwide, the first 30 centimetres of soil contains about 680 billion tonnes of carbon, a significant amount compared to the total carbon stored in vegetation (560 billion tonnes). During the seminar, held at San Sebastian University on Tuesday, 5 December, FAO's Regional Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, Sally Bunning, said that "soils are the basis for food production and many ecosystem services, such as storage and regulation of water and nutrients for the fertility of agricultural land. It is therefore urgent to make coordinated progress in the responsible management of this resource to increase production in relation to demand, eradicate hunger and combat climate change. For his part, José Miguel Torrico of the regional coordination unit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, explained that there is a global consensus through Goal 15 of Sustainable Development "Life of Terrestrial Ecosystems", to fight desertification by 2030, rehabilitate degraded lands and soils and seek a world with neutral land degradation. On behalf of the government, Gabriel Cartes presented the Program "Incentive system for the agri-environmental sustainability of agricultural soils", a development instrument of the Ministry of Agriculture, which aims to recover the productive potential of degraded agricultural soils, aimed at farmers and agricultural producers in the country.

The president of the NGO Sustainable Soil, Miriam Llona, called upon all actors and civil society to take action to protect soil as a source of life and basis for sustainable development in the country. He also stressed the importance of education and training on soil protection and care and the imperative need for a law in Chile to protect this important resource. Meanwhile, Pablo Cornejo, President of the Chilean Society of Soil Science, emphasized that "although the activity and scientific productivity in soil sciences at the national level is remarkable in the last two decades, the structural deficiency of research funding and the lack of a legal body for soil protection, are limitations that as a country put at risk the sustainability of the resource".

National challenges

As a result of the discussion, several issues were identified to advance sustainable soil management in Chile. Among the points recognized as priorities are soil contamination, product of the mining sector and salinization due to inappropriate irrigation techniques, excessive use of agrochemicals, among others. Challenges were also identified in the communication between the different partners to exchange ideas on political, technical and socioeconomic aspects related to soil protection and management, through a working group coordinated with support from the NGO Sustainable Soil and the activities of the Chilean Society for Soil Science and the Ministry of Agriculture. Finally, it was agreed to promote actions to sensitize the different actors on the importance of protecting and ensuring sustainable soil management through the active promotion of practices and systems of integrated, healthy and productive agriculture and forestry.

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Agenda | Presentations | Photogallery (soon available)