There are over 100,000 different types of soil in the world.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

International Symposium on Functions of Soils in the Geosphere-Biosphere Systems

August 27-30, 2001

This symposium was organized by the Dokuchaev Soil Science Society, Russian Academy of Sciences; Moscow State University Faculty of Soil Science. Commission V and Commission VIII of the International Union of Soil Science has supported this symposium and Chairmen of both Commissions (Drs. A. R. Mermut and C de Kimpe) were present during the meeting. Geosphere and biosphere are perceived to be as the two basic soil-forming factors by soil scientists for a long time. Little attention is given about the function of soils on geosphere and biosphere. However, increased understanding of such functions has paramount importance for sustainability of life on the planet earth. The problems of global warming (carbon cycle), contamination of surface and groundwaters, maintaining biodiversity, soil degradation recently started to bring many earth and life scientists to work together. Between 1980 and 1990 some fundamental studies were carried out in Russia. Therefore, the Dokuchaev Soil Science Society and Moscow Lomonosov State University Faculty of Soil Science has organized this symposium with the full support of the IUSS.

Total of 400 delegates, out of which 71 foreign scientists, representing 28 countries have registered to participated in this meeting. The organizers indicated that about half of the delegates were unable to participate. The main topics discussed included:

  • soil functioning in ecosystems,
  • soil atmosphere relationship,
  • soil influence on the hydrological and hydrochemical cycles,
  • soil functions in the lithosphere,
  • soil as a record of geosphere-biosphere interactions, and
  • soil as a natural resource for human society.

Papers were presented in both Russian and English. While a large number of poster papers scheduled for presentation, unfortunately only a few were posted in the corridor. Due to heavy load of oral presentation, the participants had very little time to see and interact with the authors of the poster papers. Majority of the papers was presented in Russian language. Lack of proper translation into English was unfortunate for the foreign delegates and this also restricted questions and dialog among the scientists. The topics discussed were very wide and perhaps a bit ambitious. However, it generated a lot of interest for organization of similar symposia the future.

A very enjoyable scientific excursion took place on Wednesday, August 29/2001 in Malinin forest in Podolsk district, South of Moscow region, in Krasnopakhorski forest enterprise. Prof. L.O. Karpachevskiy from Moscow State University has lead the excursion and a total of three profiles, under different vegetation types of southern Taiga were observed. The core of the plain is made of Jurassic clays and Cretaceous sands, covered by glacial deposits and loess. Very lively and thought provoking discussions took place in each site. It was considerable eye opening for many foreign delegates to see the forest soils of the excursion site. We would like to thank to Prof. Karpachevskiy and his colleagues for the preparation of the excursion guide and bringing it to a successful end. It was indeed very nice to meet so many well-known Russian Scientists during the symposium

In addition to two Commission Chairs, the presence of Profs. D. Yaalon, R. W Arnold, W. Blum (Secretary General IUSS) have added tremendously to the scientific discussions

A. R. Mermut and D. H. Yaalon