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While we know there are more living organisms in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on the planet, knowledge about soil life is vastly inferior to knowledge about life above ground. As Professor Dieter Helm explained at our parliamentary event:

Soils are the bedrock of biodiversity – without healthy soils we don’t have the basic building blocks of ecosystems and hence nature is in trouble.” 

Soil quality and biodiversity are vital for healthy water systems, the regulation of carbon, pest and disease control, decontamination, waste processing and the development of novel antibiotics and pharmaceuticals.  

The recent Spring Budget included two relevant announcements: the requirement for biodiversity net-gain in all new developments and the Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity.

These initiatives have the potential to be watershed moments for understanding and quantifying the impact and interdependence of human activities and natural habitats; however, as currently framed neither explicitly references the vital role of soil biodiversity and the dependence upon soil health of other forms of biodiversity. 

This concern is exacerbated by the fact that research on the topic is siloed according to academic and corporate specialism; policy instruments are outdated; and there is no single focal point for academic or policy debate. 

We see a vital role for the SSA in ensuring soil biodiversity is reflected in these and other policy initiatives and the fundamental role of healthy soils for all biodiversity is understood and valued.