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3rd Global Soil Biodiversity conference co-hosted by UCD and Teagasc

A major international conference on soil biodiversity, co-hosted by University College Dublin and Teagasc, in association with the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, is taking place in Dublin, commencing today, Monday 13th of March. The 3rd Global Soil Biodiversity conference, a 3 day event, is taking place on the UCD campus and brings together the world’s leading experts in soil biodiversity science, with over 650 people in attendance from more than 120 countries.

The conference will provide the latest updates on soil biodiversity research and knowledge for scientists, policy makers, regulators, environmental agencies, conservationists, land user managers and other stakeholders in the sustainable use and conservation of soil biodiversity. The theme of the conference is ‘Science as a basis for the sustainable use and conservation of soil biodiversity’ and is particularly timely given the increased understanding of the importance of soil biodiversity in food security and climate regulation, and the recent intensification of international efforts to safeguard soil health. At EU level this includes the recent development of an EU soils strategy, the establishment of an EU Mission on Soil Health and Food, and the inclusion of aspects of soil health in the Common Agricultural Policy. Additionally, an EU soil health law, which would provide legal protection to soil, is currently being considered and is expected to be published in June. 

This conference is the flagship event for the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, an international initiative launched in 2011, which seeks to promote expert knowledge on soil biodiversity in environmental policy and sustainable land management to protect and enhance ecosystem services. 

According to Professor Tom Bolger, UCD and Chairman of the Conference Organising Committee, “This conference aligns closely with UCD’s strategy where members of the UCD community have been to the fore in shaping the UN Sustainable Development Goals and have been leaders in research areas such as the bioeconomy and agrifood and have developed education programmes in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance.”

Speaking at the official opening of the event, Professor Frank O’ Mara director of Teagasc said; “Teagasc are delighted to co-host this event on this important topic with UCD and in association with the Global Soil Biodiversity initiative. Soil Biodiversity and soil health is the basis for all our food production systems and critically important in meeting many of the sustainability challenges we face such as climate change, water quality, biodiversity loss and plant health.  Irish soils are generally in good health, and we need to build on that position.”

Dr Fiona Brennan, Soil Microbiologist with Teagasc and member of the conference organising committee said; “Soils harbour a phenomenal diversity of life, and the more we learn about this reservoir of biodiversity the more we understand its incredible importance for addressing the major societal challenges of our times. The central role played by soil biota in nutrient transformations, climate regulation and plant health place them at the heart of global challenges around food security, biodiversity loss and climate change. As international efforts to safeguard our soils intensify it is key that the scientific evidence is available to underpin policy and management advice, and this conference will provide a forum for scientists, educators and other stakeholders to share the best available knowledge.”

Associated with the conference, on Thursday 16th March Teagasc Johnstown Castle in Wexford, will be hosting a free practical field day with the theme of ‘Farming for Soil Health field Event: Building Resilient Agricultural Systems from the Ground Up’, which will demonstrate the practices and technologies that can be adopted on farms to assess and enhance soil health.