ECALP(Ecoped. Map of Alps)

The project "Eco-pedological Map for the Alpine Territory" was proposed by the Italian Ministry of Environment and Territory, within the SOIA (System for the Observation and Information on the Alps) Working group of the Alpine Convention. The Ministry drew up an agreement with APAT (Agency for Environmental Protection and Technical Services) charging it to work out the project in cooperation with the Regional Environmental Protection Agencies and other technical and scientific institutions, particularly the Centro Studi Val d’Ossola (Domodossola) of the Catholic University of Milan. A first draft of an eco-pedological map for the entire alpine territory is to be developed by the Centro Studi, supported by the European Soil Bureau Network; ARPA Veneto will coordinate the activities, since it is the only regional agency deeply involved in national soil mapping projects (Ecopedological Map of Italy, Soil Map of Italy at 1:250.000 scale).

The main purpose of the project is to create a useful network among regional and national institutions which own and manage soil data, in order to achieve the setting up and updating of a shared soil database for the Alps, according to SOIA's tasks. To this end, it seems necessary to develop common procedures to allow data exchange and updating and evaluation for some application purposes. The definition of an exchange format for data, to be tested in some sample areas, seems to be the most effective way to follow, having the contribution of the experience of the partners involved in the project. The aim is to establish contacts with a proper number of partners and thus pilot areas, which can represent different situations and experiences.

Ecalp Database: The Ecalp Database has been implemented for the Pilot Areas according to the Inspire Reference Grid. Data in Access format, Excursion Reports and Final Reports are available in the Ecalp Data. All the Pilot areas will upload their data in this section.

Ecalp 2006 Meeting: During the 6th and 7th of February 2006 the Meeting for "Harmonization of Soil Information in the Alps - Results and Prospects " (ECALP Project) was held in JRC, Ispra, Italy.

During the 3rd and 4th of February 2005 the Meeting for "The Technical and operational procedures in the Harmonization of Soil Information in the Alps" (ECALP Project) was held in JRC, Ispra, Italy.

During the 1st and 2nd of July 2004, the Meeting for "Harmonization of Soil Information in the Alps" was held in JRC, Ispra, Italy. This meeting was organized in order to analyze the problems of harmonization of soil information in the Alps.


Alpine Soil Information System (ALPSIS)

The adoption of the protocol on soil protection (Bled, 20/10/98), within the Alpine Convention, sets new goals for the European Soil Bureau (ESB) Network. Currently the only harmonised soil database covering the Alps is available at the ESB in the framework of the European Soil Information System (EUSIS). The soil information available within that system is at small scale (1:1,000,000) and therefore not suitable for regional scale applications as required by the Alpine Convention. Particularly article 11 of the soil protection protocol calls for the establishment of a soil erosion risk database in order to delineate areas at high risk. This will require further work towards the establishment of a more detailed soil information system for the Alps. The envisaged structure of the Alpine Soil Information System (ALPSIS) will follows essentially the structure of the geo-referenced soil database for Europe.

For background information you can read the article related to The development of an Alpine Soil Information System (L. Montanarella and Th. Negre).

In the context of ALPSIS and in line with INSPIRE principles, the JRC has set up a collaboration with the "Eco-pedological Map for the Alpine Territory" (ECALP) project. This project was proposed by the Italian Ministry for the Environment and Territory, within the SOIA (System for the Observation and Information on the Alps) Working group of the Alpine Convention in order to develop a first draft of an eco-pedological map for the entire alpine territory.      

Selection of pilot areas

Pilot areas will be proposed by the partners of the project and will be chosen in agreement among all involved subjects, in order to satisfy as much as possible some requirements. In detail the areas should possibly:

  • be representative of the alpine environment for the own territory;
  • be located near the national border, possibly where landscapes are similar to those of the neighbouring partner, in order to allow comparison;
  • have available soil data, with at least soil survey standard at 1:250.000 scale, equal to about 30 observations for the entire pilot area, half of which should be profiles (1 observation every 6.25 km2)

Areas which have already been studied for application purposes, will be favoured, especially if the issues concern the main ones highlighted by the Alpine Convention and the Communication of the European Commission of 04/16/2002 “Towards a thematic strategy for soil protection (erosion, decreasing of organic matter, pollution, etc.)

In order to improve correlation work, mapping by pixel is suggested. This kind of format allows an easy flow of data on soil, which can be easily integrated by other environmental and territorial information (see the French example INDIQUASOL According to INSPIRE’s principles (INfrastructure for SPatial InfoRmation in Europe, which aims at availability of harmonized geographic information and is promoted by the European Union, a reference grid, which will soon become the European standard, should be used. The pixel size for pilot areas has been set to 1 km, according to Eurogrid/INSPIRE; this size seems to be the most suitable, considering both the extent of the entire alpine region and the probable high diversity in data availability among partners. Nevertheless, for those partners who consider it advisable, due to local peculiarities, it should be possible to use smaller pixels (100 m or 10 m side, according to Eurogrid/INSPIRE). In any case, the common reference, proposed for the start of this testing remains the 1 km side pixel.

Filling in of the exchange format in each pilot area

Since the European Soil 1:1.000.000 Database is the only available example of a harmonized database for the entire alpine territory, its structure has been taken as a reference point in order to develop an exchange format which could be shared among all partners. Furthermore, the “Manual of Procedures for a Georeferenced Soil Database for Europe” (see /ESDB_Archive/eusoils_docs/doc.html), has been used for variable coding and to integrate some aspects lacking in the 1:1.000.000 database.

The information required in the exchange format is organized into information about environment, about soils and about soil horizons. For the environment the required data concern climate, morphometry, morphology, geology, land use and vegetation, while for soils, some information on the quality of data is required (number of profiles and confidence level), but also data about parent material, WRB classification, hydrological properties (permeability, drainage and AWC) should be provided. Horizons should be grouped into maximum three layers (topsoil, subsoil, substrate), for which the main features should be described, such as texture, rock fragments, bulk density, organic carbon, carbonates, reaction, cation exchange capacity and base saturation. It is also very important to provide, at every level, information about procedures and data sources (metadata).

Project Outputs

Brochure " Ecopedological Map of Alps"
The Alpine Convention has made availabe the 8-pages brochure for the "Ecopedological Map of Alps".
Download the brochure: (size: 3.5 MB). The brochure contains information related to the project, its goals, the exchange format and some data examples.   


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Title: ECALP: Ecopedological Map of the Alps
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Projects Data
Year: 2005
Publisher: European Commission - DG JRC