2015 is the fifth year of the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity (UNDB) and the International Year of Soils 2015, (IYS) helped raise awareness of soil with its issues and values as a largely hidden foundation to biodiversity.
I set up a Soils website to develop educational resources for the IYS more fully , and especially a focus on first hand relationships with soil in its diversity. Visit enviroed4all’s Soils for Soil Selfies resource collection and Snooping into Soils and other activities.
My series of articles on Biodiversity/environmental education activities in the Home Education Network’s magazine Otherways, went from Family Farming articles in 2014 to Soils as an often invisible contributor to the health of living things that make up biodiversity, be it foods or Nature.
Celebrating-soils (issue 143) introduced the IYS and its aims. This article had activities to especially to raise awareness of what soil does in our local environments by simple observations of soil using basic senses. Global ideas were introduced by examining the logo and slogan healthy soils for a healthy life, and a suggestion to create one’s own logo. A list of readily accessible on-line soil education resources was given.
Learning-at-Global-Soils-Week ( issue 144) drew on my experiences in Berlin for Global Soils Week (GSW), with the display of Aussie Soil Selfies and as a part of the global discussions about the issues for raising awareness of soil, its foundation in many environmental issues and the call for different ways to work together across sciences. The example of a Soil Selfies showed how how they could be used to learn about local soil, and there were suggestions for learning about the issues and contributing to OVAMs Soil Stories project.
Soil-tests (issue 145) provided simple soil Science experiments that could be used for National Science Week activities. These Snooping into Soils activities covered soil colour, texture, clays and sands in layers, modelling soil spaces, pH, and salinity…. and what we learn about soils from doing such tests.
WHEG-investigating-soils ( issue 145) shows two simple things that can be discovered from the Soil Selfies collecton : diversity in soil colours and uses. The third activity was modelling the key parts of soil with blocks
Sustainability-for-soils (issue 146) was a reflection on the IYS aims and the icons it uses to communicate the key ways we depend on soils. The article went on to consider issues of sustainability for soils, given how long it takes to form: wind erosion in a El Nino year, with clays and sands; fertility and bare soils . There are sustainable managements at home and farm levels: mulching; composting; watering; rotating crops; fertilising; plant choices; farming with stubble retention. First hand examples of issues and managements could be found in many of the Soil Selfies and especially the Kenyan one. Other actions to support soils come from the YUNGA program. Drawing on the GSW, caring for soil then leads to supporting the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals.
return to list of environmental articles in Otherways by IY from 2010- present
move on to Soils website
page set up 20 January 2016