INSPIRE Knowledge Base

ESBN

Description
Organisation: 
European Soil Bureau Network
Acronym: 
ESBN
Details
Mission and Objectives: 
The European Soil Bureau Network (ESBN), located at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra (I), was created in 1996 as a network of national soil science institutions. Its main tasks are to collect, harmonise, organise and distribute soil information for Europe. The ESBN is experiencing a surge in the demand for soil information in Europe, for addressing a number of environmental problems and questions. These include: leaching of agrochemicals, deposition of heavy metals, disposal of waste (agricultural, domestic and industrial), degradation of soil structure (through loss of organic matter, salinisation and subsoil compaction), risk of erosion (by water and wind), immobilisation of radionuclides, supply of water at catchment level, assessing the suitability (and sustainability) for traditional and alternative crops, and estimation of soil stability. The ESBN’s aim is to carry out scientific and technical work programmes in order to collect, harmonise organise and distribute soil information relevant to Community policies, to a number of Directorates General (DG’s), to the European Environment Agency (EEA) and to individual Institutions of the EU Member States.
Formal Mandate: 
European Commission
Mandate: 
Within its 6th Environmental Action Programme, the European Commission has established the objective of protecting soils against a number of major threats – erosion, pollution, decline of organic matter content, loss of biodiversity, sealing by infrastructure, salinization and desertification. In order to achieve this objective it has proposed the introduction of a specific thematic strategy for soil protection. The way forward towards this proposed strategy has been outlined in the Communication COM 179 (EC, 2002) ‘Towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection’. The Communication recognizes several distinctive features of soils that make the development of a soil protection policy somewhat different from the protection of air and water. One of these features is the very high degree of spatial variability of soils across Europe. The great diversity of European soils reflects the differences in climate, geology, vegetation, land use and historical development that are characteristic of Europe. Recognizing soil diversity implies to take into account the strong local connotation of any soil protection policy. Different soils require different management and protection measures. It seems therefore a mandatory pre-condition to the development of any future soil protection strategy is the compilation of a detailed and up-dated inventory of the current status of European soils. The future development of a European Spatial Data Infrastructure (ESDI) within the INSPIRE (http://inspire.jrc.it) initiative of the European Commission will generate a fully streamlined flow of soil data and information from the local scale up to the European scale. Such a nested soil information system (King et al., 1998) will allow to access to soil information at the appropriate scale for each of the required applications (global, European, national, regional, local) by the different stakeholders. The development of a coherent approach to soil protection within the EU will take time. In the long term, a ‘soil framework directive’ may be the appropriate instrument to achieve fully the goals outlined in the soil protection strategy. Nevertheless, some initial steps are already possible within the existing legislative framework. One of the major existing instruments for improving soil protection in the EU is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Pre-condition to the successful implementation of any of such measures will be the development of a coherent European Soil Information System involving stakeholders at all levels: from the local to the global scale. In this sense, the European Soil Bureau Network will continue in future to be the main European soil data and information provider for the implementation and monitoring of the future thematic strategy for soil protection.
Activities: 
The activities of the ESBN have been and still are, driven essentially by the demands for soil information by the EU Member States and the European Commission. The services most heavily involved in soil related policies are DG AGRI (Agriculture) and DG ENV (Environment), though recently a surge of interest in soil information has been observed coming from other Commission services. These are most notably DG REGIO (Regional policy) in relation to the European Spatial Planning Perspective (ESDP), and DG RELEX and DG DEV (Development) in relation to soil information in non-EU countries. The extension of the European soil databases to non-EU countries has indeed been stimulated by the needs of these Directorates General. Specifically in the framework of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), there is the need for adequate soil information systems in the affected regions. The core of this system is currently the European Soil Database, based on the 1:1,000,000 scale ‘Soil Geographical Database of Europe’ that is currently covering Europe. This new coverage also forms part of the joint Circumpolar Soil Database under development in collaboration with Canada (Agriculture Canada) and the United States of America (USDA-NRCS). This extension will serve as a tool for the more accurate estimation of soil organic carbon pools in the boreal areas and for estimates of potential changes in GHG emission in relation to changes of soil temperature regimes in these areas. EUSIS is developing into a multi-scale spatial system integrating data at different levels of detail into a single Geographic Information System. It forms an essential link in the chain from global scale systems with the 1:5,000,000 scale World Soil and Terrain database (SOTER) (UNEP/ISSS/ISRIC/FAO, 1995) to detailed national, regional and local soil information systems, at scales 1:250,000 to 1:5,000, within the European Union, ensuring a coherent approach from the local to the global scale. The aim of the database is to provide a harmonised set of soil parameters, covering Europe (the enlarged EU) and bordering Mediterranean countries, to be used in agro-meteorological and environmental modelling at regional, national, and/or continental levels. The Soil Geographical Database of Europe (SGDBE), in version 4.0, now covers Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The most recent extension covers Iceland and the New Independent States (NIS) of Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Work is ongoing to incorporate soil data for other Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. The system incorporates a number of pedotransfer rules (Van Ranst et al., 1995) that allow the preparation of derived products, such as soil erosion risk maps, soil organic carbon estimates, susceptibility to subsoil compaction, water holding capacity and many others. More complex models (CGMS) use EUSIS for the early forecast of crop production in MARS, risk of desertification, groundwater vulnerability to agrochemicals, etc. Future developments will improve the links to other environmental databases – land cover/use, elevation, climate, geology and hydrology. Although there is considerable scope for improving the resolution and quality of the data currently incorporated, EUSIS remains the only soil information system covering the entire European continent. The data are currently managed using ArcGIS® and associated RDBMS software.
Membership: 
Participant organisation name (Short name) Cranfield University, Silsoe UK (CU) Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hannover D (BGR) Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Vienna A (UBA-A) Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Orleans F (INRA Info) Szent Istvan University, Godollo Hu (SIU) JRC- Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra I (IES) Ghent University, B (UGent) Institute of Soil Science 'Nikola Poushkarov', Sofia BG (ISSNP) Czech University of Agriculture Prague (CUA) Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, DK (IGUC) Estonian Agricultural University, Tartu EST (EAU) MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Jokioinen SF (MTT) Agricultural University of Athens (AUA) Research Institute for Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (RISSAC) Lithuanian University of Agriculture, Kaunas LT (LZUU) Latvia University of Agriculture, Jelgava LV (LLU) Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Malta (MRAE) Alterra b.v. Wageningen, NL (Alterra) Norwegian Institute of Land inventory As N (NIJOS) Warsaw University of Technology PL (WUT) Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e das Pescas, Oeiras P (INIAP) National Research and Development Institute for Soil Science, Agrochemistry and Environment, Bucharest Ro (ICPA) Soil Science and Conservation Research Institute, Bratislava SK (SSCRI) University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty SLO (UL-BF) Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales, Madrid E (CSIC) Departament d'Agricultura, Ramaderia i Pesca (DARP), Secció d'Avaluació de Recursos Agraris (SARA) Lleida E (DARP-SARA) Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, Uppsala S (SLU)
Comments: 
The latest major changes include the introduction of a new extended list of parent materials, and, for coding major soil types, the use of the new World Reference Base (WRB) for Soil Resources (FAO, 1998)
Typology: 
Thematic
PROPOSED ROLE IN INSPIRE DEVELOPMENT

Which role(s) do you foresee for the SDIC in INSPIRE development

  • submit reference material as input to the Drafting Teams
  • yes
  • allocate experts to Drafting Teams
  • yes
  • participate in the review process
  • yes
  • implement pilot projects to test/revise/develop the draft Implementing Rules
  • yes
  • register a project to test/revise/develop the draft Implementing Rules
  • yes
  • contribute to awareness raising and training
  • yes
  • be kept informed
  • yes
    Geographic Domain
    Europe
    Enlarged EU and Neighbouring Countries
    Societal Sector
    Research and Development, Policy Support
    Specific Expertise
    Previous Experience relevant for INSPIRE development
    The core experience of the ESBN in the context of INSPIRE is the compilation and application of the current European Soil Information System (EUSIS), based on the 1:1,000,000 scale ‘Soil Geographical Database of Europe’ that is covers the enlarged EU and Neighbouring Countries. EUSIS is developing into a multi-scale spatial system integrating data at different levels of detail into a single Geographic Information System. The geographical coverage of EUSIS includes: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The most recent extension covers Iceland and the New Independent States (NIS) of Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Work is ongoing to incorporate soil data for other Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. The system incorporates a number of pedotransfer rules that allow the preparation of derived products, such as soil erosion risk maps, soil organic carbon estimates, susceptibility to subsoil compaction, water holding capacity and many others. More complex models (CGMS) use EUSIS for the early forecast of crop production in MARS, risk of desertification, groundwater vulnerability to agrochemicals, etc. Future developments will improve the links to other environmental databases – land cover/use, elevation, climate, geology and hydrology. Although there is considerable scope for improving the resolution and quality of the data currently incorporated, EUSIS remains the only soil information system covering the entire European continent.
    Environmental application domains
    Soil protection
    Primary Business
    Research and Development