Global Soil Partnership

Progresses on the Global Soil Information System

Under the framework of Pillars 4 and 5 and related Plan of Actions, the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Partners agreed on the establishment of the Global Soil Information System (GLOSIS) and its associated products, the first product of the GLOSIS will be the Global Soil Organic Carbon Map (GSOCmap), to be released by the end of 2017. Indeed, to assess the amount of degraded land under SDG 15.3.1, SOC is an important component under the sub-indicator on above and below ground carbon. The GSOCmap can be utilized to estimate the soil carbon sequestration potentials through modelling and the vulnerability of soil functions under climate change using SOC as an indicator. The GLOSIS implements a very well established country-driven approach which strongly relies on member inputs.  


Recognizing that the GSP global policy mandate is to promote sustainable soil management, GSP partners worked jointly on the establishment of GLOSIS including the International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII).  INSII forms the backbone of Pillar 4 and it is supported by a technical working group of soil information experts (Pillar 4 Working Group)Under the leadership of the newly elected Chair, Mr. Neil McKenzie, from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), INSII provides the venue for reviewing progress in the execution of the Pillar 4 Implementation Plan, particularly the establishment of GLOSIS. Considering the high priority of having efficient and reliable soil data and information available for sound decision-making, GLOSIS represents all shared national soil data products, developed using common GSP protocols, and distributed via web services, facilitated by a national and a global soil Spatial Data Infrastructure” (see definition in the Guideline). In response to the request from GSP members,the Arrangement was submitted to the fifth GSP Plenary Assembly in June 2017 and was subsequently endorsed. In the same occasion the International Soil Reference and Information Center (ISRIC) was unanimously appointed as Global Soil Partnership Soil Data Facility (SDF) for a mandate expiring on 31/12/2020.

Taking into account the increasing attention Soil Organic carbon (SOC) has received during the development of greenhouse gas reporting under the IPCC since the mid-nineties and the fact that, despite the greater attention, a precise and reliable global view on SOC is still needed under different UN conventions, especially as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), GSP and its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) were requested by the UNCCD Secretariat and its Science Policy Interface (SPI) to develop the GSOC stock map, applying a country-driven approach, by December 2017.

To accomplish this, a technical Guideline containing specifications which are meant to ensure that national maps are comparable, was circulated on the occasion of the second INSII meeting (November 2016). Another key document Soil Organic Carbon Mapping Cookbook has been released in June 2017. It provides detailed data preparation operations and descriptions of SOC mapping procedures/methodologies using conventional upscaling and digital soil mapping (DSM) techniques. The process of data sharing coordinated by the GSP Secretariat and the GSP Soil Data Policy was discussed and endorsed during the last Plenary. It ensures that the national terms and conditions for data-sharing are fully respected. 

The global map is being compiled from national maps and generated using existing soil profile data and soil polygon maps. Grids, produced using DSM also assess uncertainties. Countries are engaging in GSOC map activities, carrying out assessment of existing soil data comprising gap analysis in the light of the Pillar 4 data requirements and developing methods to fill data gaps as needed. Where national SOC maps do not exist or do not conform to the given specifications, countries produce national SOC map initiated by this project. If countries do not have the capacity, they will share original SOC measurements with the GSP Secretariat and the secretariat will organize the production of the national SOC map in close consultation with the country representatives. Indeed, a series of on-the-job GSOC map trainings have been organized in developing GSP regions to improve the technical capacities of the countries.

GSP partners have already started to exchange data for the compilation of the first Pillar 4 global data product, applying the highest level of harmonization possible. National SOC layers are being prepared by the GSP secretariat and merged towards the global product. 

Guideline | Arrangement | GSP Soil Data Policy | GSOC map trainings  GSOC mapping cookbook