Caring for Soils - Where Our Roots Grow.

Links4Soils Soil Ecosystem Services in the Alps

Links4Soils project is focused on raising awareness of soils in the Alpine Region, reviewing the existing regional and national soil data, transferring knowledge and best management practices to policymakers, decision-makers, and other stakeholders, what was the driver to create a PUBLICATION on soil ecosystem services in the Alps. It provides a sound basis for a better understanding of the benefits humans obtain from suitable management and protection of soils.

Find a brief description about Soil Ecosystem Services HERE.

Why is sustainable management of Alpine Soils necessary?

The Soil Conservation Protocol of the Alpine Convention is the common legal basis for soil protection in the Alps. Links4Soils conducted a qualitative survey on the status quo of its implementation and challenges in all Alpine languages. Find the results in the PDF below.

Links4Soils developed a common understanding of the importance of Alpine soils based on the concept of Ecosystem Services.


  • Agricultural biomass production
  • Forest biomass production
  • Water storage
  • Surface runoff regulation
  • Local climate regulation ("cooling effect")
  • Carbon cycle (carbon cycle)
  • Water filtration and purification
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Habitat provision (biodiversity)
  • Cultural and natural archives
  • Recreational services


Linking Soil Ecosystem Services to Soil Data

During the Links4Soils project, we have developed two interactive tools for the selection of relevant soil data and information on sustainable soil management according to the sector and ecosystem services. The first estimation tool can be used in the field, at a soil profile, to estimate the contribution of soils to eleven selected ecosystem services. In particular, it illustrates how key soil properties, which may alter under changing land uses and management strategies, impact on the individual ecosystem services. It is a useful tool for knowledge transfer and capacity building, as it assists soil experts in bringing the topic of soil-based ecosystem services closer to stakeholders.

The second, implemented in a spread-sheet tool offers users to identify essential soil ecosystem services that should be tackled in an individual sector, related sectoral sustainable soil management practices and which are important soil properties to assess as what measured soil data to provide/monitor at a location. The tool largely utilizes soil expert knowledge, however once the soil parameters are set and adapted to local conditions and natural setting, the tool can be used by decision-makers. The concept of the method is embedded in an automatized spreadsheet tool, which allows users to select soil ecosystem service and instantly visualize relevant soil management practices, related soil properties and what soil data to collect.

Both methods or tools are useful for planning soil protection activities and decisions for safeguarding soil ecosystem services at the local/municipal level.

There are two different documents under each picture, one is a report and the second one is the Soil ecosystem services estimation tool.