Conserving soils is vital to guarantee the services they provide to people and the planet.

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International Soil Conservation Day has been celebrated every July 7 since 1963. This event aims to highlight the vital role that healthy soil plays in the well-being of the planet and people, and to raise awareness of the importance of soil conservation.

This date was chosen in honor of the American scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett, a pioneer in the field of soil conservation who died on the same day in 1960. Bennett dedicated his life to demonstrating that soil care directly influences the productive capacity of the soil: “Productive land is our foundation, because everything we do begins and is sustained by the sustained productivity of our agricultural land.

There is a great variety of soils, ranging from sandy, clayey or black earth, and all of them are home to species of flora and fauna. According to the European Commission’s report “The Factory of Life: Why Soil Biodiversity Matters“, a quarter of all species on the planet live in the soil. A healthy soil has a great diversity of life forms, from bacteria and fungi to small insects, earthworms and moles. Collectively, this biodiversity provides valuable services to our lives.

On the one hand, the soil provides us with about 95% of the food we consume, according to the United Nations. But this thin layer of the planet also provides almost all the ecosystem services and functions necessary for the existence of life on Earth. It plays a vital role in climate change mitigation, stores and purifies water, supplies antibiotics, and prevents disease and erosion. It also regulates the climate, removes carbon dioxide and other gases from the atmosphere, and complex processes necessary for plant survival take place there.

However, soils are threatened, largely as a consequence of human activities. Changes in land use, habitat fragmentation and loss of species, the effects of climate change -such as the alteration of the carbon cycle-, pollution, salinization and erosion are some of the impacts suffered by soils around the world.

Biodiversity loss and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time and preserving soil quality and the biodiversity it harbors is part of the solution to both. Investing in healthy soils brings numerous benefits: it improves food productivity, water storage and biodiversity conservation, thus increasing the sustainability and resilience of agri-food systems.

While other vital resources such as water and air are constantly recycled and regenerated, soil formation can take decades or even centuries. Therefore, their conservation and protection is essential for the current and future generations.