Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


�Data and information are essential building blocks of science. Many types of data, including extant historical data which have newly appreciated scientific importance for the analysis of changes over time, are not being used for research because they are not available in digital formats� (International Council for Science, 2004).
Maps made in the past remain the backbone for present and future studies. Soil maps are resources for researchers in many fields apart from soil science; they are the source of databases, related to and dependent on soils, used to monitor land degradation and improvement, changes in land use and water resources, and to predict climatic and other environmental changes.
Less and less new, fundamental soil data are being produced these days; the older data and information are being pumped around more and more. Therefore it is vital to preserve the older data (in this case maps) as they are building blocks of most current soil information. The user of present-day, derived information should have easy access to the source material, if only to assess the reliability of the derived material.
But, in many countries, soil maps are being lost because of lack of proper attention to storage and retrieval, often compounded by a loss of institutions that have been responsible for the acquisition and maintenance of soil and land resources data. This problem is acute in developing and transitional countries where valuable data, currently only available on paper, must be digitized before they are lost forever.
In Africa, though not only in Africa, this type of information is rapidly being lost; much is already lost. The digitization of the African maps will enable the African countries to recover and re-use their soil information.

Additional information

Authors: SELVARADJOU S-K, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);MONTANARELLA L, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);SPAARGAREN O, ISRIC - World Soil Information, Wageningen (NL);DENT D, ISRIC - World Soil Information, Wageningen (NL)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 21657 EN (2005), 396 pp. Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9893 Fax: +39 033278 5409 E-mail: or Bruxelles (BE) Tel: +32 2 295 76 24 Fax: +32 2 299 63 22
Record Number: 200618473 / Last updated on: 2005-12-15
Original language: en
Available languages: en