SOILGUARD envisages a future where the conservation of soil biodiversity and the environmental, economic and social well-being of EU biogeographical regions is guaranteed. Unsustainable management and climate change are increasing land degradation and threatening soil biodiversity. Urgent action is required to mainstream sustainable soil management practices and the perception of soil biodiversity as a key nature-based solution to face land degradation and climate change stressors. The efficacy of this call to action depends on addressing major knowledge gaps related to biodiversity and soil-mediated ecosystem services. Soil biodiversity assessment emerges as a key challenge to be overcome.
SOILGUARD will co-create a conceptual and analytical framework with the potential to become the global standard for future assessments of soil biodiversity status and its contribution to soil multifunctionality and human well-being. This framework will be validated in an innovative experimental design, combining multiple study sites across biomes and regional land degradation gradients with in-situ climate change simulations. Thus, creating the evidence to fill the gaps of knowledge and quantify the environmental, economic and social consequences of unsustainable soil management. All knowledge co-created will be shared through SOILGUARDIANS, a predictive tool based on the causal links between soil biodiversity, soil multifunctionality and wellbeing to support stakeholders on the transition to sustainable management.
The SOILGUARD Network of Knowledge and the connectivity enabled by SOILGUARDIANS app will create an ecosystem of innovation for users to showcase, learn and share experiences. SOILGUARD will co-create evidence-based conservation recommendations for policies and frameworks at EU and international level and will support Member States commitments under the Global Soil Partnership. SOILGUARD has the support and engagement of the GSP, GSBI, SOIL-BON, ITPS, FAO and IPBES.