World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue

Welcome to WOSSAC

WOSSAC Background

Large numbers of substantial soil surveys have been made worldwide by British companies over the past 80 years, mainly funded by governments as well as development assistance donors, representing over 348 territories worldwide. A rough estimate, almost certainly on the low side, is that such surveys number many tens of thousands and by today's prices would cost many hundreds of million pounds sterling to repeat! So expensive would this prove that in truth such surveys are never likely to be undertaken again; yet until WOSSAC, many of these unique materials were scattered, unprotected and in danger of being lost forever. The WOSSAC Archive represents an extremely valuable bank of international data about soils, their nature, properties and potential use of land, made ever more important by the pressing needs of the developing world as never before. Many of the 8 items of the UN Sustainable Development goals can be directly related to and informed by the contents of the WOSSAC archive. In particular, Goals 2 'Zero Hunger', and 15 'Life on Land' speak strongly to the agenda of WOSSAC

This large body of information about world soils has been in grave danger of becoming lost, destroyed or generally unavailable as the original donor funding agencies have been subject to reorganisation, and the companies that produced the surveys have been acquired, merged, downsized or closed down, and with many of the original the soil surveyors themselves being now retiring or deceased.

Before WOSSAC, there was no organised resource-base detailing what exists, in what state or how available it is. Therefore at the behest of the British Society of Soil Sciences (BSSS) and with the full support of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and the Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA), the National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) located at Cranfield University has undertaken to catalogue, archive and manage this important body of information and to make it widely available to the stakeholder community. There are currently many tens of thousands of volumes of reports and maps in store in the process of being classified and archived. A huge proportion of the collection has already been catalogued and these items may be searched using the tools on this website. Work is ongoing to complete the cataloguing process, and to make the materials themselves available in electronic form using the Internet.