Soils provide a wide range of benefits, many of which can be provided by the same soil at the same time. This means we need a range of soil data and information to help us make informed decisions. However, the data and information required to make these decisions doesn't always exist. Soil monitoring can help fill these gaps.
Soil Monitoring Action Plan (Soil MAP)
The Soil Monitoring Action Plan (MAP) is working to improve communication, awareness and understanding between a range of different users. The aim is to develop a soil monitoring programme that supports the collection of soil data and makes soil data and information available that meets the needs of these users.
The Soil MAP was developed in partnership across Scotland’s soil community. The Soil MAP:
- identified who needs soil data / information;
- assessed what data / information is required;
- determined what data / information exists;
- identified gaps in data and information required.
An Implementation Plan was then developed which:
- recognised that it was not possible to set up a one-size-fits-all monitoring programme across Scotland to fill all the gaps in the immediate future;
- identified areas of work that could be delivered in the short term by linking to existing activities or by using existing data resources;
- identified additional monitoring needs which require further discussion and development.
More details on work in progress can be found below. If you need any further information, please contact us.
Soil MAP work in progress
- Peatland and carbon work
- Soil erosion work
- Soil sealing work
Peatland and carbon work
The Soil MAP is currently working with the National Peatland Plan research and monitoring group. Monitoring associated with peatland restoration provides a baseline of peat depth and condition across Scotland.
The links between all the different pieces of peatland work (past, present and future) with references to where you can find further information are illustrated in a peatland network diagram.
Soil erosion work
The Soil MAP is working with Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) as part of its priority catchment work to record incidences of soil erosion. SEPA ecologists and soil scientists are also recording soil erosion while out doing their routine sampling. Other partners will be recording soil erosion using this method in future.
A citizen science soil erosion portal has been developed as part of Scotland's environment web. We ask people who are out and about in the countryside to look out for signs of soil erosion, to record it, take a photograph and upload it into our portal.
All of the observations recorded in these various erosion projects will be pulled together and used to get a better idea of where soil erosion is happening.
The links between all the different pieces of soil erosion work (past, present and future) with references to where you can find further information are illustrated in a soil erosion network diagram. Further information on the MAP soil erosion work can be found on our soil erosion web page.
Soil sealing work
There are a number of projects being carried out for a variety of reasons (e.g. flooding, ecosystem health) that are recording different aspects of soil sealing (covering of soil with impermeable materials). We hope we can pull the results of these different projects together to give us an idea of the different soils that are being lost as a result of sealing.
There are a number of different strands of work in the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme which will inform the soil MAP.
Sources of soil data and information
There are a number of organisations that collect and publish data and information on soil in Scotland. These include:
- The James Hutton Institute (JHI)
- Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
- British Geological Survey (BGS)
- Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) Countryside Survey
- Forest Research
- Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS)
The Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Portfolio for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment includes a range of projects on soils - through their Strategic Research Programme, Centres of Expertise and Underpinning Capacity.
The Centres of Expertise bring together expertise across the publicly-funded research sector to provide timely, relevant scientific advice to inform Government policy. Two of the centres relate to soil:
A new Centre for Knowledge Exchange within the Scottish Environment and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) will ensure that the findings of research are publicised effectively.
Soil and related research is also carried out at a number of Scottish Universities.
The UK Soil Observatory provides information on soils across the UK.
You can find links to further information about soil monitoring in Scotland in the resources section.
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