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The Glinka World Soil Champion is.. Ms Lydie-Stella Koutika from The Republic of the Congo

Well known soil scientist from Pointe-Noire, Congo Basin with over 30 years of experience in research on agroecosystems. 

01/12/2021

Lydie-Stella Koutika is a well known soil scientist from the Republic of the Congo with over 30 years of experience in applied research on agroecosystems. Her research focuses on soil health and degradation processes to fight food insecurity and foster climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Her early career started in the Brazilian Amazon, Belgium and the Netherlands and focused on soil organic matter dynamics, mainly carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. She investigated soils under various regional, climatic and land use conditions, documenting these experiences with over 100 publications in top international scientific journals.

After several years abroad, she made the courageous decision to return to Pointe-Noire in her native Republic of the Congo where she is now Director of the Research Centre on Productivity and Sustainability of Industrial plantations (CRDPI).

Notwithstanding the severe financial constrains the institute faces in the aftermath of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she is still highly determined to continue to conduct research for the benefit of her country, the Congo basin and the entire African continent. Dr Koutika is now actively working on soil organic matter dynamics in forest plantations established on sandy soils in the Congolese coastal plains. Her recent studies highlight how soil biota drives and enhances nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration, and how human activities (H2S deposition from oil activity occurring since the 1969 in the area) may have altered the composition of soil bacterial community of these forest plantations.

Lydie is a member of the Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) of the ‘4 per 1000’ “Soils for Food Security and Climate initiative”, and a member of the Editorial board of Geoderma Regional (Elsevier), Forest Ecosystems (Springer Open), and Bois & Forêts des Tropiques (CIRAD) journals. She is also a laureate of the ‘African Union Kwame Nkrumah Regional Scientific Award for Women’ (2014) and The World Academy of Science (TWAS)-Al-Kharafi Prize (2018).

This award recognises her contributions towards improving and expanding the knowledge of African soils and the considerable impact she has had on the scientific community and farmers’ livelihoods.

BACKGROUND

Since 2016, the Russian Federation has financially supported the Glinka World Soil Prize. This annual prize rewards Global Soil Partnership members, individuals or organizations committed to solving acute national, regional or local problems of soil degradation. 

The award comes in the form of a USD 15 000 check and a Glinka gold-plated medal. It contributes to raise awareness among policy makers and the general public about possible solutions to tackle acute national and local problems of soil degradation, and to encourage all stakeholders and soil practitioners to engage in field-oriented work, with direct contributions to the preservation of the environment, food security and poverty alleviation as specified in the Revised World Soil Charter.

Former winners of the Glinka World Soil Prize include Instituto Geografico Augustin Codazzi in 2016 (IGAC, Colombia), the Argentine No Till Farmers Association in 2017, Professor Rattan Lal (USA) in 2018, Dr. Xu Minggang (China) in 2019, and Luca Montanarella (European Commission) in 2020. 

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