Soil can perform multiple ecosystem services and at same time face multiple threats

SERENA will evaluate bundles of ecosystem services and soil threats and will model their evolution on climate and management changes.

SERENA (Soil Ecosystem seRvices and soil threats modElling aNd mApping) aims at defining indicators of soil degradation and soil-based ecosystem services in accordance to the stakeholders needs. As soil can perform multiple ecosystem services and at same time face multiple threats, the project will evaluate bundles of ecosystem services and soil threats. Additionally, it will also model their evolution on climate and management changes.

As the first step to evaluate and possibly harmonize reference values for mapping indicators of soil threats, of soil ecosystem services and their associated bundles from the local to the national scale, a questionnaire for collecting the existing experiences on SESs and Threats at Country level was prepared and filled by 15 MSs. The results were assessed and summarized in terms of number of studies per Country, together with the used indicators and methods of assessment. Furthermore, with the aim to build a common literature database, specific strings were prepared for browsing the Web of Science and Scopus repositories, in order to have a harmonized approach for searching.

With 25 institutions from 16 member states, the SERENA consortium has just completed the first semester of project life and will participate actively to the Annual Science Days in Palermo next June. During the event, project updates will be presented to the audience, and partners of the SERENA project will present their contributions in the breakout session “Soil indicators and assessing ecosystem services”.   

SERENA is organized in six work packages ( whose activities in the first six months of project life focused on defining and setting up operational and conceptual tools to ensure the achievement of project goals. Among those, current efforts are being dedicated to the development of a framework to assess soil threats, soil functions, and soil-based ecosystem services (to be co-designed with stakeholders), to adopt shared definitions (e.g. soil quality, soil health, soil threats, soil  functions, soil-based ecosystem services, bundles) and indicators for characterizing agricultural soil threats and ecosystem services at various scales (to be co-designed with stakeholders), and to review and analyze current available assessments of soil threats and ecosystem services (review data, metadata and methodologies).   

A strong interlinkage among tasks from different WPs is characterizing this first semester of project life, joining efforts towards the definition of concepts and framework and aligning definitions and indicators. A framework linking soil quality/soil health together with soil-based ecosystem services and soil threats is currently being created along with a review of indicators in recent European and national reports, scientific papers and documents concerning soil threats, ecosystem services and bundles. A tool for prioritization of soil based ecosystem services, soil threats for each country has been prepared, and by the end of May, all MS will suggest their selection of soil threats and soil based ecosystem services.

SERENA future activities will be supported by an Advisory Board whose members are Rosa Maria POCH CLARET, University of Lleida, Spain, Rainer BARITZ, EEA, and Katharina HELMING, Zalf, Germany.

For more information:

Regular updates and news about SERENA project activities can be found on the EJPSOIL webpage ( and on the SERENA project page on the professional social network for scientists and researchers ResearchGate (