What is SUITMA ?

SUITMA is a Working Group (WG) of IUSS (International Union of Soil Sciences), under the roof of Division III—Soil Use and Management. This Division has taken a leading role in coordinating international efforts to advancing our understanding of the urban-soil system.

More and more, the world continues to urbanise, which causes serious problems related to land-resource use and ecosystem protection. Soils in urban areas fulfill several functions and are used for various purposes, including forestry and agriculture as well as urban, industrial, mining, and military activities. Hence, they play a primary role in the functioning of ecosystems in densely populated areas.

However, for decades, soil survey and soil research mainly focused on agricultural and forest lands, whereas intensively managed and disturbed soils have not been appropriately investigated as is revealed by the white areas on soil maps. Soils in urban areas are characterised by a strong spatial heterogeneity resulting from the various inputs of exogenous materials and the mixing of original soil material. Their evolution is controlled by similar factors as in natural soils, although the human factor extremely triggers rapid transformation cycles. Often they retain pollutants which may pose a threat to human health. They can be investigated by the traditional soil-survey approach; however, the methods applied must be properly adapted and new methods must still be developed. It is only through a multi-disciplinary approach that urban soils can be better understood to optimise their use for the protection of human health and natural resources. The importance of ‘urban soils’ was recognised, thanks to the initiative of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Burghardt, University of Duisburg-Essen, by the establishment of SUITMA (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11368-008-0023-3).

More information about “What is SUITMA” you can find here:

Burghardt W., Morel JL, Zhang G-L 2015. Development of the soil
research about urban, industrial, traffic, mining and military areas (SUITMA).


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