New atlas helps protect the soils of Latin America and the Caribbean: a precious resource for a growing population

The European Commission’s in-house science service publishes the first ever comprehensive overview of the soils of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Through colourful maps and illustrations the atlas explains in a simple and clear manner the diversity of soil across Central and South America and the Caribbean. It highlights the vital importance of a natural non-renewable resource which provides food, fodder and fuel for 580 million people.

The atlas shows the delicate relationships between soils and the functions that they provide. It raises awareness of the inter-relationships with climate and land use while illustrating the role of soil in food security, particularly in relation to climate change. Latin America’s soils also support some of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, soils have to meet the needs of a population that is in continuous and rapid growth. More than half of the 576 million hectares of arable land of Latin America are estimated to be affected by degradation processes, notably in South America and Mesoamerica.

The main causes are change in land use (especially deforestation), over-exploitation, climate change and social inequality. The atlas presents a number of strategies for soil preservation and conservation.

The atlas is designed to reach the general public, the education sector and policy makers dealing with environmental, agricultural and social issues.

The first edition entitled: el Atlas de suelos de América Latina y el Caribe is published in Spanish. Portuguese and English versions will follow.

Coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Soil Atlas of Latin America and Caribbean is the result of a fruitful collaboration with leading soil scientists in Europe, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

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