In a handful of fertile soil, there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings that have ever existed.

   Twitter Logo  Facebook Logo Linked In Logo 

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.

Second conference of the IUSS working group

SUITMA -Soils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic and Mining Areas

From July 7 to 11, 2003, Nancy, France did host the second SUITMA conference. This was three years after the first in Essen, Germany. About 130 participants from 20 countries did follow the invitation to report and discuss about the current state of this very new field of soil research. The conference was organised by the Groupement d’Interet Scientifique sur les Friches Industrielles (GISFI ) of Lorraine.

Was the first SUITMA conference more or less a broad check to make visible the state of knowledge about the until now nearly unknown urban soil, application of soil information and soil quality problems, so was the second SUITMA conference thematic oriented on methodologies for the study of urban soils and classification (14 contributions), biological properties of urban soils (13), pollution dynamics and transfer risks (30), physical and chemical properties of urban soils (16), remediation of degraded or polluted soils(11), historical (7), health (6) and legal aspects (6). The numerous presentations did give essential descriptions and inputs for the management of the existing soil problems and such we just start to become aware, for example such related to storm water infiltration, occurrence of pathogenic organisms, pollutant transfer or threats to children at school yards.

The oral and poster presentations are published as abstract book and as CR Rom. The CD-Rom is available from

Discussion on Anthrosol formation of the Deutsch-Franzoesischer Park in Saarbruecken

Discussion on Anthrosol formation of the Deutsch-Franzoesischer Park in Saarbruecken

The region around Nancy, Lorraine, and of the Saarland next to it offer excellent possibilities for tours about the themes of SUITMA. The region was one of the most important coal and iron mining, and iron and steel production areas in Europe. It was also the frontier for some years of the French and German army in the First World War. The organizers took the opportunity to show in an impressive way what are the impact of regional soil use and military actions and what that means for soils and their properties. The themes of the 4 one day tours were Industrial soils from mining residues, dumps and coal mining areas, Soils with modified physical properties due to mining and military activities, Industrial soils from an iron-steel industry are and Urban soils.

The Conference dinner was at Chateau d’Haroue. It is a beautiful French Castle with a wonderful atmosphere. It did offer us small walks, many talks and a French dinner, that means a dinner for gourmets.

The scientific community of the working group SUITMA decided to have the third conference in 2005. We were very pleased that we got 7 offers to perform the third conference. We want to thank all of them sincerely. The decision was to go to a country outside Europe and North America, in countries where strong growth of urban agglomeration occurs. The third SUITMA-conference will be in Cairo, Egypt from 17 to 25 November 2005 (presentations from 19 – 21 November) and the fourth is envisioned in China, Nanjing, in 2007. Please check also the announcement in preparation in (UPCOMING MEETINGS) or

Another important decision was to add military areas to the soil use spectrum covered by SUITMA. Large areas of the world are used for military purposes. Soils are in part strongly modified by military activity.

The working group SUITMA covers soils from areas which have been strong modified by soil use. The decision was to settle the Working Group SUITMA under the roof of Division III – Soil Use and Management in the new structure of IUSS.

It was pleasant to discover that soil science goes with success into cities and discovers the urban terrain. The target to give soil scientist of the field of strong by human modified soils a scientific home and forum by the IUSS working group SUITMA was well achieved.

The excellent conference organisation and ground breaking tours by INPL-ENSAIA, UHP, INRA and CNRS and friendly organisations, the conference place Palais des Congres in Nancy and the French hospitality made the second SUITMA conference to an event

We want specially to thank Jean Louis MOREL, Louis FLORENTIN, Christophe SCHWARTZ and Guillaume ECHEVARRIA, Liliane LAURENT and the many others of GISFI who did the work with them.

Wolfgang Burghardt

University Duisburg-Essen, Germany, Chair of IUSS WG SUITMA