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Glob Chang Biol. 2016 Mar;22(3):1008-28. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13068. Epub 2015 Dec 26.

Global change pressures on soils from land use and management.

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Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops & ClimateXChange, University of Aberdeen, 23 St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, UK.
Cabot Institute, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK.
Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade de Brasília, I.B. C.P. 04457, Campus Universitário Darcy Ribeiro - UnB. D.F., CEP: 70919-970, Brasília, Brazil.
National Agriculture and Food Centre Lužianky, Soil Science and Conservation Research Institute Bratislava, Gagarinova 10, 827 13, Bratislava, Slovakia.
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia.
Institute of Resources, Environment and Ecosystem of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University, 1 Weigang, Nanjing, 210095, China.
Global Landscapes Initiative, Institute on the Environment (IonE), University of Minnesota, 325 Learning & Environmental Sciences, 1954 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN, 55108, USA.
Soil Research Centre, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 227, Reading, RG6 6AB, UK.
School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, 751024, India.
CNRS, IEES (UMR 7618 UPMC-CNRS-UPEC-IRD) CentreAgroParisTech-INRA, Bâtiment EGER, Thiverval-Grignon, France and INRA, UMR 1402 INRA-AgroParisTech ECOSYS, F-78850, Thiverval-Grignon, France.
Department of Soil and Crop Sciences & Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1499, USA.
Alterra Wageningen UR, PO Box 47, 6700AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
National Hydrology Research Centre, Environment Canada, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 3H5, Canada.
Invermay Agricultural Centre, AgResearch, Private Bag, Mosgiel, 50034, New Zealand.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK.
Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Chikusa, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan.
Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Ecologie marine et continentale, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, BP 80, Aix-en-Provence, 13545, France.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 105 S. Gregory Street, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA.
Department of Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Armory Building, Renes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU), Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 19, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 82467, Germany.


Soils are subject to varying degrees of direct or indirect human disturbance, constituting a major global change driver. Factoring out natural from direct and indirect human influence is not always straightforward, but some human activities have clear impacts. These include land-use change, land management and land degradation (erosion, compaction, sealing and salinization). The intensity of land use also exerts a great impact on soils, and soils are also subject to indirect impacts arising from human activity, such as acid deposition (sulphur and nitrogen) and heavy metal pollution. In this critical review, we report the state-of-the-art understanding of these global change pressures on soils, identify knowledge gaps and research challenges and highlight actions and policies to minimize adverse environmental impacts arising from these global change drivers. Soils are central to considerations of what constitutes sustainable intensification. Therefore, ensuring that vulnerable and high environmental value soils are considered when protecting important habitats and ecosystems, will help to reduce the pressure on land from global change drivers. To ensure that soils are protected as part of wider environmental efforts, a global soil resilience programme should be considered, to monitor, recover or sustain soil fertility and function, and to enhance the ecosystem services provided by soils. Soils cannot, and should not, be considered in isolation of the ecosystems that they underpin and vice versa. The role of soils in supporting ecosystems and natural capital needs greater recognition. The lasting legacy of the International Year of Soils in 2015 should be to put soils at the centre of policy supporting environmental protection and sustainable development.


heavy metal deposition; land-use change; land-use intensity; nitrogen deposition; soil; sulphur deposition

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