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Towards a standardization of soil-related ecosystem service assessments (2020)

Paul, C., Kuhn, K., Steinhoff‐Knopp, B., Weißhuhn, P., Helming, K.

European Journal of Soil Science, 72 (4), 16 pages



The concept of ecosystem services (ES) creates understanding of the value of ecosystems for human well‐being. With regard to soils, it provides a framework for assessments of soil contributions and soil management impacts. However, a lack of standardization impedes comparisons between assessment studies and the building of synthesis information. The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) is an important step forward, although its application to soils is not without difficulty. CICES version 5.1 defines 83 ES classes, of which only some are relevant for soils. We compiled two subsets of CICES classes: one set of soil‐related ES comprising 29 services defined as directly and quantifiably controlled by soils and their properties, processes and functions, and another set of 40 ES defined as being affected by agricultural soil management. Additionally, we conducted a systematic literature review, searching for published lists of soil‐related ES that claim completeness. We identified 11 relevant lists. Of all CICES classes, 12 were included in more than 75% of the lists, whereas another 36 classes were included in 25–75% of them. Regarding the suitability of the CICES classification for addressing ES in the context of soils and their agricultural management, we identified constraints, such as overlaps, gaps, and highly specific or very broad class definitions. Close cooperation between the soil research and ES communities could ensure better consideration of soils in future CICES updates. A shortlist of 25 service classes affected by agricultural soil management facilitates a standardized approach and may function as checklists in impact assessments.

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