What is the GSBI? A brief synopsis of the GSBI’s past, present and future

The GSBI was formed with the goal of uniting scientists across disciplines (soil ecology, soil science, biogeochemistry, agroecology, policy) to convey soil biodiversity research to policy and land managers for global sustainability of ecosystem services. The GSBI looks to link science and policy through the application of rapidly expanding knowledge of soil biodiversity.

As the first step, the GSBI hosted an inaugural meeting in London, March 2012, following the Planet Under Pressure Conference. Attendees, from 13 countries (across 5 continents) agreed on the urgency to disseminate current knowledge of soil biodiversity to both policy and land management sectors. From this meeting the GSBI White Paper was produced, where we describe more thoroughly the group’s aims including: remaining scientific challenges, harmonization of methods, managing soil biodiversity for ecosystem services and the role policy.

The GSBI then attended Rio+20 and hosted a side event, “Towards a Truly Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative” with the help of Embrapa, Brazil. At this side event the GSBI presented alongside the CBD, FAO, EU-JRC and Embrapa and laid the groundwork for future synergistic partnerships. Additionally, GSBI leadership Dr. Diana Wall and Dr. Luca Montanarella, presented on the role of soil biodiversity in supporting ecosystem services in sessions with the UNCCD and FAO. Together the attendance of the GSBI in RIO served to propel the initiative into a new arena, one step closer to applying soil biodiversity science to sustainable land management.

Now, as the GSBI approaches one year since initiation we continue to move forward. This august we launched an official membership, where researchers can sign up to participate in GSBI scientific events. Already we have 65 members, spanning 21 countries. The GSBI membership will be used to form working groups on the topics deemed most important to global sustainability and land management, including: Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling, Soil Structure & Erosion Prevention, Regulation of carbon flux and climate, Decontamination and bioremediation, Control of Pests and Invasive Species, Health, Aesthetics and Cultural Services across all ecosystems (managed and natural) - forest, deserts, grasslands, alpine, polar, arable, urban and wetlands. From these working groups we will synthesize the current literature, identify remaining scientific knowledge gaps and propel soil biodiversity into sustainability discussions.
Another goal of the GSBI is a global assessment (the GSBA) in collaboration with the EU-JRC. Again we will draw from our membership to help inform and advise this undertaking.

The goal of the GSBI is to involve as many countries, continents and research groups as possible. Soil biodiversity is not an issue of just a few, but of all countries. With this post, we make a call, please get involved. We want your soil biodiversity expertise and knowledge. JOIN NOW and share this call with your colleagues across the world.

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