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World Soil Day 2020: Let’s Together Keep Our Soil Alive & Protect Soil Biodiversity

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap
World Soil Day 2020: Let’s Together Keep Our Soil Alive & Protect Soil Biodiversity , Image Credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (fao.org)

World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on December 5 with the aim to bring everybody’s focus on the importance of soil health and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil as a resource. 

This year WSD theme "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity" aims to boost the awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems of soil and human well-being. By addressing the growing challenges in soil management, increasing soil awareness, fighting soil biodiversity loss and encouraging governments or organizations, communities & individuals around the globe to commit to proactively improving soil health. 

History behind 5 December 

The date of December 5 was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of the late H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej who was the King of Thailand and was one among the main proponents of this initiative. 

Thus an international day to commemorate Soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in the year 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness-raising platform. The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the UN General Assembly responded by designating December 5, 2014, as the first official World Soil Day. 

Even this year U.N. honours World Soil Day with new stamps. The pane includes 10 $1.20 (dollar) stamps for use from the post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City and 10 attached labels. The UNPA calls this a “personalized stamp sheet” and the selvedge surrounding the stamps and labels includes a two-paragraph summary of the day: “World Soil Day is commemorated annually on 5 December to highlight the importance of healthy soil & sustainable management of soil resources.” 

Why Soil is important: 

  • Soil is a living resource and home to more than one quarter (25%) of our planet’s biodiversity.
  • Up to 90 per cent of living organisms live or spent part of their lifecycle in soils, yet we know only 1 per cent of this hidden universe.
  • Soil biodiversity reflects the variability among living organisms including micro-organisms not visible with the naked eye, and macro-fauna like this little shrew.
  • Soil organisms work for 365 days and 24/7 in a coordinated effort to sustain life on Earth.
  • Soil biodiversity is major essential component of soil health and the healthy soils produce more nutritious and safer food i.e. 95 per cent of our food comes from soils.
  • Soils organisms help soils store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Soil biodiversity helps in the remediation of soil pollution by breaking down contaminants.

Interesting facts about soil:  

  • In just 3 inches of soil, there’s 13 quadrillion living organisms, weighing 100 million tonnes. 
  • One hectare of soil contains the load equivalent of two cows of bacteria. 
  • There are more organisms in one gram of healthy soils than there are people on planet. 
  • An earthworm can digest its weight in the soil every 24 hours. 50 per cent of the Earth soil passes through the gut of earthworms annually. 
  • Soil organism’s process 25,000 kilogram of organic matter in a surface area equivalent to a soccer field, which is the weight of 25 cars.  

 Source: World Soil Day | United Nations,  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (fao.org) 

 

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