Circular EconomyHorizon 2020Safe and sustainable food and feed



Sustainable Soil Management To Unleash Soil Biodiversity Potential And Increase Environmental, Economic And Social Wellbeing.


SOILGUARD envisages a future where the conservation of soil biodiversity and the environmental, economic and social wellbeing of EU biogeographical regions is guaranteed. Unsustainable management and climate change are increasing land degradation and threatening soil biodiversity. Urgent action is required to mainstream sustainable soil management practices and the perception of soil biodiversity as a key nature-based solution to face land degradation and climate change stressors. The efficacy of this call to action depends on addressing major knowledge gaps related to biodiversity and soil-mediated ecosystem services. Soil biodiversity assessment emerges as a key challenge to be overcome.

SOILGUARD will co-create a conceptual and analytical framework with the potential to become the global standard for future assessments of soil biodiversity status and its contribution to soil multifunctionality and human wellbeing. This framework will be validated in an innovative experimental design, combining multiple study sites across biomes and regional land degradation gradients with in-situ climate change simulations. Thus, creating the evidence to fill the gaps of knowledge and quantify the environmental, economic and social consequences of unsustainable soil management.

All knowledge co-created will be shared through SOILGUARDIANS, a predictive tool based on the causal links between soil biodiversity, soil multifunctionality and wellbeing to support stakeholders on the transition to sustainable management. The SOILGUARD’s network of knowledge and the connectivity enabled by SOILGUARDIANS app will create an ecosystem of innovation for users to showcase, learn and share experiences.

SOILGUARD will co-create evidence-based conservation recommendations for policies and frameworks at EU and international level and will support Member States commitments under the Global Soil Partnership. SOILGUARD has the support and engagement of the GSP, GSBI, SOIL-BON, ITPS, FAO and IPBES.

Project Budget: 6,999,161.25€

Leitat Budget: 684,658.75€

Financial Framework: HORIZON 2020

Contract number: 101000371

Start Date: 01/06/2021

End Date: 31/05/2025


Main role & contribution in the project:

  • Leader of steering the co-design of the SOILGUARD Strategy, the co-development of the Soil Biodiversity and ES assessment and valuation framework and the engagement process within the project and beyond.

  • LEITAT will define the diversity of arthropods and earthworms (amplicon sequencing), the soil virome (metagenomics) and the presence of antibiotic resistance genes (amplicon sequencing) within the general assessment of soil biodiversity at a global scale for multiple biomes.

  • LEITAT will monitor the effects of drought and heat waves on soil biodiversity populations (from bacteria to earthworms) inhabiting agricultural soils under different types of soil management (LTEs and climate simulations).

  • Collaborate in the selection of indicators for the integrative valuation approach.

  • Leader on ensuring the correct functioning of the overall project, administrative and financial reporting as well as the proper implementation of the mentioned tasks.


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Grant Agreement no. 101000371.