Benefits of Soil Carbon

“Soil Carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits” was released on World Soil Day (5 December 2014). Improving soil carbon management could be the key to addressing serious global challenges affecting millions of people across the world. Chapter 1 “The Global Challenge for Soil Carbon” of SCOPE 71 can be downloaded at

The volume focuses on soil carbon, a critical component of the biosphere’s natural capital that is now under increasing pressure from a growing human population, projected to reach more than ten billion people by the end of the 21st century.

SCOPE 71, edited by Professors Steve Banwart, Elke Noellemeyer and Eleanor Milne, considers a range of topics related to soil carbon.

The recommendations and a vast background of compiled scientific evidence have been drawn from a two-year international SCOPE Rapid Assessment Process (RAP) project Benefits of Soil Carbon. It involved a wide range of experts in order to draw together the fragmented and complex science and policy information on soil carbon and its essential role supporting land ecosystems and human life.

The SCOPE project developed from the expert consultation and contribution to the UNEP Year Book 2012 emerging environmental issues section on “The Benefits of Soil Carbon”

The Global Advances in Soil Carbon Management recommendations, which have been compiled by a team of international scientists, could have a significant impact on land degradation, food security, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions from land.

The key recommendations highlighted by the 75-strong project team from 17 countries world-wide include:

  • Stopping soil carbon losses from organic-rich soils such as peatlands and from drylands where soils are vulnerable due to low soil carbon content

  • Promoting soil carbon gains through active soil management in agricultural lands that have experienced historical losses of soil carbon,

  • Greatly expanding soil and land management from local scale decisions to increased national and international actions to deliver large-scale benefits worldwide.

  • Reducing the fragmentation in policy for soil and land management, which is often scattered between government sectors for agriculture, environment, energy and water resources.

  • A global research effort to increase soils carbon content, quantify the soil improvements and to adapt improved soil carbon management to land and climate conditions around the world.