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European Soil Bureau (ESBN) > Soil Geographical Database

Soil Geographical Database of Europe at scale 1:1.000.000 Version 1 of this database (SGDBE) was digitised by Platou et al. (1989) for inclusion in the CORINE project (Co-ordination of Information on the Environment). To answer the needs of the, MARS Project (see above), the database was enriched in 1990-1991 from the archive documents of the original EC Soil Map and the resulting database became version 2. The work of the Soil and GIS Support Group of the MARS Project lead to version 3 of the database. A slightly updated version (3.2.8) of the Soil Geographical Database at scale 1:1,000,000, covering central and eastern European and Scandinavian countries (Jamagne et al., 1995), forms the core of version 1.0 of the European Soil Database.

The aim of the database is to provide a harmonised set of soil parameters, covering Europe (the enlarged EU) and bordering Mediterranean countries, to be used in agro-meteorological and environmental modelling at regional, national, and/or continental levels.

Recently the Soil Geographical Database of Europe (SGDBE) has been extended in version 4.0, to cover Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The most recent extension covers Iceland and the New Independent States (NIS) of Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Work is ongoing to incorporate soil data for other Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

In addition to these geographical extensions, the database has also experienced important changes during its lifetime. The latest major changes include the introduction of a new extended list of parent materials, and, for coding major soil types, the use of the new World Reference Base (WRB) for Soil Resources (FAO, 1998). The database is currently managed using the ArcGIS® Geographical Information System (GIS) software system and associated relational databases.

The database contains a list of Soil Typological Units (STU), characterizing distinct soil types that have been identified and described. The STU are described by attributes (variables) specifying the nature and properties of the soils, for example the texture, the moisture regime, the stoniness, etc. It is not appropriate to delineate each STU separately thus STUs are grouped into Soil Mapping Units (SMU) to form soil associations. The criteria for soil associations and SMU delineation have taken into account the functioning of pedological relationships within the landscape. A detailed instruction manual for the compilation of data for the Soil Geographical Database of Europe version 4.0 has been published by Lambert et al. (2003).

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