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, there are still issues around the existence of the right data from the right place with the right interpretation for the people who need to use the data to make decisions.
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 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.
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.
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 where 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.
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). It is hoped that 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 this threat.
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 and Impact 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.
Links to further information available about soil monitoring in Scotland are given in the resources section.
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