World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue

Welcome to WOSSAC

WOSSAC Overview

WOSSAC Mission

Global soil science information

First commenced in January, 2004, the Cranfield University 'World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue' (WOSSAC) project aims to develop an archive and catalogue of all substantial soil surveys, reports and maps made overseas, with particular reference to those by British companies and personnel, to provide a safe repository for endangered copies, and to make the accrued information widely available for consultation by interested parties.

Open letter to soil scientists

Why WOSSAC has been developed

We draw the WOSSAC project to soil scientist's attention, hoping that you will find the following interesting and worth encouraging.

It has increasingly become a matter of concern for the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) and the Tropical Agricultural Association (TAA) and the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), among others, that large numbers of soil surveys made worldwide in the past 80 years in some 348 territories worldwide, principally by British companies and soil survey staff, are in danger of being lost, destroyed and becoming generally unavailable. This situation arises at a time when there is reviving interest in soils on global and regional agendas and an increasing realisation of the crucial role of soils in sustainable development and the functioning of the environment.

Many of the surveys were produced in only limited print runs, and many copies have since been lost. For some surveys, the private copies held by individuals are now the only ones remaining. Serious problems arising from this include:

  1. The private copies are not known about, and therefore not available to individuals or organisations who want soils information about the area;
  2. The copies are in danger of being lost when private collections are moved or broken up.

There have been earlier proposals to rectify this situation by setting up a central collection, in which people could lodge copies that they no longer need. However these efforts lacked a committed institutional base and made limited progress.

Cranfield University has now taken on the task with the support of the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS), the Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA) and the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), and is pleased to pledge its support for the establishment on a World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue (WOSSAC) of materials and under the management of the Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute (CSAI). The aims of WOSSAC are:

  1. To establish an accessible archive of hard copies of endangered soil survey reports, maps and other relevant materials.
  2. To establish an interactive online catalogue of all surveys known, including those in the Archive at Cranfield and those remaining in company and private hands elsewhere.
  3. Although WOSSAC will initially concentrate on British-sourced materials, our aim is to link the WOSSAC catalogue with other major archives and databases, to form a global network of information on soil surveys.

Cranfield University is pleased to take responsibility for this project and will find sufficient space to house the hard copy archive into the foreseeable future, safeguard it to the best of its ability and provide access to visitors wishing to inspect the material.

WOSSAC and Cranfield University are anxious not to infringe, in spirit or in letter, on the Copyright and other Intellectual Property Rights of the original publishers of the surveys. We are therefore in the process of obtaining clearance from DfID and other funding agencies, who financed many of the surveys, to hold them available for public access

Individuals who are interested can participate by:

  1. Depositing reports, maps or other materials with the Archive;
  2. Retaining their materials, but providing details for our on-line catalogue, so people know of the existence and whereabouts of rare surveys;
  3. Letting us know of those who might wish to participate;
  4. Lastly considering supporting this valuable project financially.

People who follow the second option above, might like to ensure that their collections are eventually deposited with the WOSSAC Archive when they no longer need them.

We should stress that this is a non-commercial venture, and that we intend to charge users only for covering our costs and for copying, scanning and mailing etc. Cranfield University will supply some of the physical resources needed, and WOSSAC will seek to obtain external funding and financial backing for its operation, maintenance and operating costs.

We shall be publicising this initiative through BSSS, TAA, IPSS, the Association for Better Land Husbandry, and other professional societies, and also through less formal channels, such as reunions. Please bear with us if you are approached several times. We have to risk repetition and overlap if we wish to have good coverage.

We hope that you will be able to support and participate in this project. We shall be happy to provide any further information and/or to attend any meetings that you think may help in clarification. Please Contact us.