Technical Guidelines

July 2010

Two of the main soil threats in European soils are soil erosion and decline in soil organic matter. The EEA and the European Commission DG Environment have identified these issues as priorities in relation to the collection of policy relevant soil data at European scale. In the context of its European Soil Data Centre activities and in response to EEA soil data requirements, the JRC is responsible for collection and management of European soil data in collaboration with EIONET members.

Therefore, in 2010 the JRC have organized through EIONET a data collection exercise with the objective of creating European-wide datasets for actual soil erosion and soil organic carbon (OC). The results of this data collection exercise are presented in the "Data Collection 2010" page.

Data from EIONET member countries were collected according to a grid-based approach: each country will be assigned a number of grid-cells (covering the country territory) and for each cell, the country was expected to provide a number of data according to a format that was described. Each cell carries a unique identifier provided by JRC. Cell sizes are 1km x 1km. This concept is illustrated in Annex-2.

The grid selected to overlay the European territory is a grid suggested by the technical co-ordinators for the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive.

For each EIONET member country x, the JRC has prepared a number of files:

  • x.shp: a shapefile containing the boundary of country x; (source is a European Commission internal database), to be used for viewing purpose only.
  • grid_x.shp: a polygon shapefile containing the grid overlaying the country x; each grid cell is a polygon that is uniquely identified by a cell identifier and that corresponds to one entry in the attribute table of the shapefile, the attribute table contains a number of fields: the field cell_id is prefilled with the cell identifier value; the other fields refer to erosion and OC and need to be filled by the country.
  • x_gc.shp and grid_x_gc.shp: x.shp and grid_x.shp are shapefiles in a co-ordinate system (LAEA) suggested by INSPIRE, suitable to be used for the European territory as a whole, but not necessarily suited for individual countries. Therefore, x_gc.shp and grid_x_gc.shp offer the same data as x.shp and grid_x.shp but in geographic co-ordinates.
  • meta_x.xls: an excel document that serves to store meta information on the data provided in the shapefile grid_x.shp or grid_x_gc.shp attribute table; it consists of 2 sheets:
    • x_erosion_meta for reporting erosion metadata.
    • x_OC_meta for reporting organic carbon metadata.

All files for all countries have been put together in a zip files and can be downloaded from here.

Detailed Description

grid_x.shp attribute table: Contains one column (cell_id), pre-filled with all cell identifiers for the country, a number of columns for reporting erosion and organic carbon data, one column for referring to erosion metadata (in the meta_x.xls/x_erosion_meta sheet), and one column for referring to organic carbon metadata (in the meta_x.xls/x_OC_meta sheet).


meta_x.xls/x_erosion_meta sheet: Contains one column for the erosion metadata identifier and two columns for erosion metadata.

meta_x.xls/x_OC _meta sheet: Contains one column for the OC metadata identifier and three columns for OC metadata.

Annex-1 provides a description of this table and sheets and further details on the data to be provided.

It is expected that the EIONET member country will fill the grid_x.shp or grid_x_gc.shp attribute table with OC and erosion data values and with identifiers referring to the meta information, which are to be reported in a separate meta_x.xls.

Example Files - Data

Example files for Belgium are:

  • The country boundary: Belgium.shp and Belgium_gc.shp
  • The country grid as polygon shapefile with pre-filled attribute table: grid_belgium.shp (in the LAEA co-ordinate system) and grid_belgium_gc.shp (in geographic co-ordinates)
  • The meta data Excel file: meta_belgium.xls

Note that for this example, the pre-filled attribute table of the shapefile contains the following values:

  • The cell identifier in the cell_id field
  • The value -2 (see Annex-1) for the data fields OC_30, OC_100, OC_30_per, OC_100_per, eros
  • The value 0 (see Annex-1) for the metadata fields OC_m_id and eros_m_id

On Country Grids, similar files are available for all EIONET countries.

On Country Grids, you can also find for each country x a file called grid_x_JRC.shp which is a country grid file that contains data copied from the Pan-European Erosion Risk (PESERA) map in the field Erosion_Pe (floating point), expressing erosion data in ton/ha/year. If there was no corresponding value found in the PESERA map, the field was filled with value ‘-2’ (meaning ‘no data’ available).