World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue

Welcome to WOSSAC

Longer-term Developments

Sudanese geologySignificant archives of soil survey reports and other legacy land evaluation documentation exist within the collections of other organizations in Europe and the USA. Specifically there are collections held in Italy, the Netherlands, France and at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). A key aim of WOSSAC is to develop linkages with these other world databases to create a web of inter-connected land related information specifically soil surveys. To achieve this aim funding is being sought from the major funding agencies to support the ongoing development of WOSSAC and to establish its links with other such major databases.

Other sources of legacy data presently available are listed on this page and this inventory will be updated periodically. Each collection reflects the history and context of the institution which holds the collection. For example the WOSSAC collection benefits from a strong collection of consultancy reports which are often difficult to obtain as they formed a part of the ‘grey literature’. In addition the WOSSAC collection has a working relationship with a documentary source of reports prepared by the Booker Tate consultancy which has a long history in the plantation industry notably in sugar growing. Maps and documents from such consultancy work would be project orientated and reflect specific purpose of the mapping such as irrigation development or a plantation cropping. In contract the FAO collection of maps recently released and available digitally concentrates on global or national mapping projects. Collections held by the French institutions will be especially strong in documentation held in the French language and reflect French territories overseas.

Booker Tate collection of maps and reports

Booker Tate is a leader in the provision of development, management and technical services to the world of sugar, ethanol, bio-energy and other agribusinesses. The present global technical consultancy grew from the merger of the former companies Booker Agriculture International and Tate and Lyle Agribusiness. Booker Tate has a long history of conducting high quality soil surveys and land resource evaluations, particularly with respect to sugar cane, and its technical staff produced the seminal and invaluable Booker Tropical Soils Manual (Landon et al., 1991). Booker Tate has agreed to enter into a collaboration with WOSSAC, whereby details of non-confidential soil and land resources items presently held in the Booker Tate archive are now listed in the WOSSAC catalogue. The items will continue to be held in the Booker Tate library at Thame, and access to them will be by arrangement with Booker Tate: please contact bob.merry@booker-tate.co.uk, Masters Court, Church Road, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3FA.

FAO Soil and Land Resource Legacy Maps

FAO Land and Water Division (NRL) has made an effort to make Soil Legacy data and information available for their users. FAO has uploaded 1,228 soil and land legacy maps (mainly soil maps and also land use, geological and land cover maps). Full downloads (free of charge) can be heavy, up to 100MB.

International Soil Research Information Centre (ISRIC)

ISRIC holds a core a collection of soil and land related documents held in hard copy and catalogued in a similar way to the WOSSAC. This can be accessed at : www.isric.org/content/library. There are several points to make on this resource. Like WOSSAC some of the docs/maps are digitised and it is possible to access the collections held by other libraries such as FAO directly from the isric screen.

Collections held in France (IRD and BRGM's InfoSOL)

France has a rich legacy of overseas soil and natural environment inventory and survey, with many maps and surveys originating from the former colonial era, and the transition in these countries to independence. As with the Commonwealth, these maps and surveys represent a fascinating and often unique record of the environment which can be used for baseline surveys and a variety of contemporary studies.


An illustration of the value of legacy data has been projects implemented for the UNEP and EU to capture systematically the collections from WOSSAC for the Sudan and Tanzania respectively. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) work in Sudan was supporting the UNEP Sudan Integrated Environment Project for general monitoring and particularly assessment of environmental impacts arising from conflict in the south and west of the country. These materials are now placed online and will contribute to an environmental information system being built to support and develop future environmental and agricultural policies.

In addition Cranfield staff have been involved also in a number of significant EU-sponsored research projects which aim to develop best practices for management and utilization of soil and soil-thematic data, e.g. 'e-SOTER', and 'AEGOS' and the Irish Soil Information System. WOSSAC staff have also been instrumental in creation of the England and Wales Land Information System (LandIS). These projects all draw upon the WOSSAC collection’s holdings.