The role of soils in delivering Nature's Contributions to People

Pete Smith*, Saskia D. Keesstra, Whendee L. Silver, Tapan K. Adhya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


This theme issue provides an assessment of the contribution of soils to Nature's Contributions to People (NCP). The papers in this issue show that soils can contribute positively to the delivery of all NCP. These contributions can be maximized through careful soil management to provide healthy soils, but poorly managed, degraded or polluted soils may contribute negatively to the delivery of NCP. Soils are also shown to contribute positively to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Papers in the theme issue emphasize the need for careful soil management. Priorities for soil management must include: (i) for healthy soils in natural ecosystems, protect them from conversion and degradation, (ii) for managed soils, manage in a way to protect and enhance soil biodiversity, health, productivity and sustainability and to prevent degradation, and (iii) for degraded soils, restore to full soil health. Our knowledge of what constitutes sustainable soil management is mature enough to implement best management practices, in order to maintain and improve soil health. The papers in this issue show the vast potential of soils to contribute to NCP. This is not only desirable, but essential to sustain a healthy planet and if we are to deliver sustainable development in the decades to come. This article is part of the theme issue 'The role of soils in delivering Nature's Contributions to People'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200169
Number of pages6
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1834
Early online date4 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Data accessibility. This article does not contain any additional data.

Funding Information:The input of P.S. contributes to Soils-R-GRREAT (NE/ P019455/1) and the input of P.S. and S.D.K. contributes to the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme through project CIRCASA (grant agreement no. 774378).

Acknowledgements. T.K.A. acknowledges the support of ‘Towards Integrated Nitrogen Management System (INMS)’ funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), executed through the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


  • Nature's Contributions to People
  • NCP
  • soil
  • soil health


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