Protecting our precious global soil resources

Soil is central to our planet’s life support system. Healthy soils perform essential functions ranging from supporting our food-producing plants to storing and purifying water. In August, Fidra Senior Project Manager and soil scientist, Dr Jo Cloy, attended the 2022 World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) in Glasgow.  This international congress emphasized the significance of soils and brought together experts to discuss sustainable interactions and use of soils around the world. Soil matters so let’s not treat it like dirt! 

Map of soil types across UK (WCSS 2022 corridor)

Here at Fidra we are working closely with academics, industry and policy makers to reduce plastic waste and chemical pollution in our environment. Fidra understand the need to protect our precious soil resource if we are to tackle interrelated land degradation, biodiversity loss and the climate emergency challenges. All too often soils role in our environment is overlooked. 

Perhaps even more overlooked than soil are the soil scientists, so you might be surprised to hear that the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS), is attended by over 3,000 people and takes place every four years. The soil world came to Glasgow for this timely event, with the theme, ‘Soil Science – crossing boundaries, changing society’. Building on the growing worldwide focus on the climate emergency (, enthusiastic soil scientists came together to discuss the role of soils in building a sustainable future. 

Focussed sessions covered thought-provoking topics ranging from soil greenhouse gas emissions and the growing soil microplastic pollution problem to soil phosphorus scarcity and overabundance.  There were insightful talks from world-leading experts who had come to Glasgow to share their research findings, emerging technologies, developments in analytical capabilities and most importantly sharing new ideas around soils with like-minded individuals. Learning from policy makers from across the Globe, there was a dedicated policy session that explored the link between soils and society, delivery of ecosystem services and the need for soil health monitoring frameworks. In terms of Fidra’s priorities, hearing about the exciting and newly emerging plastics research and opportunities to engage with industry stakeholders to find solutions was a real bonus!   

Finally, for those that wanted to continue building their knowledge, post-Congress soils tours took place across Scotland, and with CEH and SRUC collaborators, Jo helped delegates learn about two contrasting (and unusually very dry!) soils at Midlothian’s Boghall Glen. 

The WCSS 2022 was a great opportunity to hear about the latest soil research developments, engage with fellow scientists and build new collaborations for strengthening Fidra’s mission to shine a light on environmental issues and find evidence-based solutions to pollution and habitat degradation. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media to keep up to date on our progress on protecting soils and other issues. 

Joanna (pictured right) recently joined Fidra after working as a soil researcher. Her key research areas were agricultural soil greenhouse gas emissions, carbon and nutrient dynamics. Joanna is keen to help find solutions for key global environmental issues through her new role at Fidra.