Urban soil needs to be better understood

Urban soil in towns and cities needs to be better understood, according to a new paper published in the journal Geoderma.

In a recent review, researchers at the University of Lancaster found that although urban soils are often overlooked, they provide lots of important ecosystem services, such as:

  • Carbon storage
  • Water storage
  • Flood mitigation
  • Support for trees that capture air pollution
  • Urban food growing
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Supporting greenspace for physical and mental wellbeing

The researchers have highlighted that future research needs to focus on the multifunctionality of urban soil – the ability of the soil to provide numerous benefits and ecosystem services for people living in cities.

They also note that more studies need to take place in cities and towns across the world to build a greater understanding of urban soils across different contexts and climates. Most existing research on urban soils has taken place in Europe and North America, with little undertaken in Africa, Australia or South America.

Roisin O’Riordan, the lead author of the study, said: ‘Our study is novel because urban soil is normally forgotten about or considered to be so damaged by urbanisation that it no longer functions properly. Our review highlights the benefits that we know urban soils provide and brings together previous research into these benefits. But we also recognise that there is a lot more we still need to understand about the state of, and role of urban soils, and we have identified areas where more research is needed.

‘Addressing these gaps will enable urban soils to be better understood and accounted for in the planning, design and management of urban areas in order to support future human wellbeing and urban ecosystem health.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay




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