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Soil threats & Ecosystem Services
Convener: Jannes Stolte  | Co-Convener: Jan Jacob Keizer 
 / Thu, 16 Apr, 15:30–17:15
 / Attendance Thu, 16 Apr, 17:30–19:00

The ecosystem services (ESS) concept is considered to be a useful communication tool to highlight the dependence of human well-being on ecosystems. It has the potential to bridge the gaps between ecology, economics and society in order to achieve sustainable resource management (Braat and de Groot, 2012). The term "ecosystem services" was first proposed in early 1980s to increase public awareness about the negative consequences of biodiversity loss on the human welfare (Ehrlich and Ehrlich, 1981; Mooney and Ehrlich, 1997). The release of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2003, 2005) led to the widespread integration of ESS in policy decision-making (Gómez-Baggethun et al., 2010). Soils are part of the biophysical structure, and provide, through its processes, ESS for human wellbeing. Recently, soil science has recognised the importance of the ESS concept for prevention and mitigation of soil degradation. There are many efforts to incorporate the ESS concept in soil policy making (Breure et al., 2012; Robinson et al., 2012), as it legitimates soil conservation practices by illustrating the broad value of healthy soils and it helps to evaluate them regarding trade-offs.

Focusing on soils requires differentiating ESS delivered specifically by soils from those services generally provided by land (of which soil is as part). Increased pressure on policymakers to consider soil multi-functionality in their decision-making regarding the use of land, justifies that soil functions and ESS are prominent in decision-making frameworks (Robinson et al., 2014). Dominati et al. (2010) stated that the existing literature on ESS tends to focus exclusively on the ESS rather than holistically linking these services to the natural capital base from which they arise. Although soils are major suppliers of critical ESS, soil services are often not recognised, generally not well understood and thus not incorporated into the framework, nor is the link between soil natural capital and these services (Breure et al., 2012).

This session welcomes contributions to the understanding on (the interaction between) soil, soil functions and ecosystem services.