Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
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Soil information, from the global to the local scale, has often been the one missing biophysical information layer, the absence of which has added to the uncertainties of predicting potentials and constraints for food and fiber production. The lack of reliable and harmonized soil data has considerably hampered land degradation assessments, environmental impact studies and adapted sustainable land management interventions. Recognizing the urgent need for improved soil information worldwide, particularly in the context of the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol for soil carbon measurements and the immediate requirement for the FAO/IIASA Global Agro-ecological Assessment study (GAEZ v3.0), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) took the initiativeof combining the recently collected vast volumes of regional and national updates of soil information with the information already contained within the 1:5,000,000 scale FAOUNESCO Digital Soil Map of the World, into a new comprehensive Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD). This database was achieved in partnership with: • ISRIC-World Soil Information together with FAO, which were responsible for the development of regional soil and terrain databases and the WISE soil profile database; • the European Soil Bureau Network, which had recently completed a major update of soil information for Europe and northern Eurasia, and • the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences which provided the recent 1:1,000,000 scale Soil Map of China.