Soil Atlas of Latin America

New atlas helps protect the soils of Latin America and the Caribbean: a precious resource for a growing population

The European Commission's in-house science service today publishes the first ever comprehensive overview of the soils of Latin America and the Caribbean. Through colourful maps and illustrations the atlas explains in a simple and clear manner the diversity of soil across Central and South America and the Caribbean. It highlights the vital importance of a natural non-renewable resource which provides food, fodder and fuel for 580 million people. The atlas shows the delicate relationships between soils and the functions that they provide. It raises awareness of the inter-relationships with climate and land use while illustrating the role of soil in food security, particularly in relation to climate change. Latin America's soils also support some of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, soils have to meet the needs of a population that is in continuous and rapid growth. More than half of the 576 million hectares of arable land of Latin America are estimated to be affected by degradation processes, notably in South America and Mesoamerica. The main causes are change in land use (especially deforestation), over-exploitation, climate change and social inequality. The atlas presents a number of strategies for soil preservation and conservation.

The atlas is designed to reach the general public, the education sector and policy makers dealing with environmental, agricultural and social issues. The first edition entitled: el Atlas de suelos de América Latina y el Caribe is published in Spanish. Portuguese and English versions will follow.

Coordinated by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Soil Atlas of Latin America and Caribbean is the result of a fruitful collaboration with leading soil scientists in Europe, Central and South America and the Caribbean. The first ever comprehensive overview of the soils of Latin America and the Caribbean, coordinated by the JRC, was presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago. This is the latest in a series of JRC soil atlases and the result of a fruitful collaboration with leading soil scientists in Europe, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

On 10-11 June 2015, the EU is holding a high level summit with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) under the title "Shaping our common future: working for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens". On this occasion, the English and Portuguese versions of the JRC Soil Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean were launched. This publication was offered by the Commission President to the 61 heads of delegation, including more than 40 heads of state or government from CELAC and EU Member States taking part in the summit.

English version: Download the PDF of Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean - Size 444 MB.

Portuguese version (Draft) - Atlas de solos da AMÉRICA LATINA e do CARIBE (revised version available soon).

Portuguese version (Draft): Download the PDF of Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean (Atlas de solos da AMÉRICA LATINA e do CARIBE) - (or download through FTP) Size 438 MB.

Spanish version: Download the PDF of Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean (el Atlas de suelos de América Latina y el Caribe) - Size 127 MB.

Physical copies are available for purchase from the EU Bookshop