FAO’s Harmonized World Soil Database to Facilitate Assessments of Soil’s Carbon Storage and Sequestration Capacities

New database for soil information


July 2008: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has announced the

development of a new database on the world's soils. This database seeks to

improve knowledge of current and future land productivity, as well as the

carbon storage and carbon sequestration potential of the world's soils. Using

the database, the FAO has also produced a global Carbon Gap Map, which allows

for the identification of areas where soil carbon storage is greatest and the

physical potential for billions of tons of additional carbon to be sequestrated

in degraded soils.


soils have different capacities to act as a store for carbon, which has direct

implications for capturing greenhouse gases. The Harmonized World Soil Database

(HWSD) provides improved soil information worldwide, which is particularly

needed in the context of the UNFCCC and post-Kyoto Protocol instruments for

soil carbon measurements and carbon trading. The database can also assist

policy makers with decisions regarding land competition issues concerning food,

energy and biodiversity, and assessing the risks of land degradation,

particularly soil erosion risks. To create the HWSD, the FAO and the

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis combined recent regional

and national updates of soil information worldwide and incorporated the

FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World. Other partners, including the European Soil

Bureau Network, the Institute of Soil Science of the Chinese Academy of

Sciences, and ISRIC World Soils, also contributed information. [Harmonized

World Soil Database] [FAO News