Forest Focus - BioSoil project

Various soil types, left to right: Cambisol, Gleysoil, Histosol, Podzol


Forest Focus Regulation (EC) N 2152/2003 was adopted by the European Commission to broaden the scope of the monitoring scheme from the protection of forests against atmospheric pollution and forest fires toward other environmental issues such as soils and forest biodiversity.

BioSoil is a demonstration project, part of the programme of the International Cooperative Programme on the Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests (ICP Forests). This project was a test for the development of operational soil monitoring at a large scale.

Project aims

The project was based on a strategy of describing and sampling soils on a 16x16 km grid network that fall onto forested land, and was the single largest soil monitoring exercise implemented so far at the EU scale.

Its primary aim was to establish an improved common European baseline of forest soils for environmental applications (e.g. acidification and/or eutrophication; carbon stock assessment, impacts of climatic changes, etc.) but also evaluate methodology before EU-wide monitoring programmes for other land use types are set up.

It included a soil component and a biodiversity component.

Soil component

Biodiversity component

BioSoil in the UK

Project timescales

The BioSoil project in the UK was led by Forest Research.  Timing of the various actions were:

  • Preparation: July to December 2005
  • Establishing the 16 by 16 km network in the UK: January to April 2006
  • Soil survey: April to December 2006
  • Soil analysis: October 2006 to December 2007
  • Soil data management and report writing: December 2007 to December 2008.

Biosoil plots

Map of plot locations for the BioSoil survey in the UK
Enlarge map
Plot locations for the BioSoil survey in the UK.

There are 167 BioSoil plots on 16 x 16 km grid in the UK, of which 125 on private woodland and 42 on Forestry Commission Woodland.

Plots were installed in 2006 by Forest Research Technical Services Unit.

The soil survey was carried out by two groups of professional soil surveyors, one based in England (Land Research Associates) and one in Scotland (Andrew Hipkin and Gordon Hudson).

All 167 plots have been surveyed and the field information and soil description are under processing. Soil samples are processed and are being analysed by our chemical analysis laboratory.


BioSoil information and data has been compiled and submitted into EU database. Soil resampling of a number of the Level II sites has been carried out during 2016-2017.


Elena Vanguelova