We are very happy to take part in the Citizen Science Program of the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz with a simplified version of our Soil Health Cards. This program has previous groups dedicated to the study and conservation of orchids, butterflies or birds, for example. From now on, any interested person will be able to use the kits available in Ataria to measure some basic parameters and obtain information about the quality of their soils and agroecosystems. By the way, thanks to all the results obtained, we will be able to have a temporal diagnostic of the conservation status of soils in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Thank you CEA and Ataria for including us in this new adventure!
In collaboration with IHOBE (Basque Environmental Agency) and BC3 (Basque Centre for Climate Change, Basque Country, Spain), we are preparing a document on the interaction between the soil ecosystem and climate change, where we discuss the impact of land management practices currently being used in the rural and urban Basque territory on soil functioning and on the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The document will be part of the Basque Strategy for Soil Protection.
In collaboration with the research teams of Prof. Manu Soto and Prof. Txema Becerril from the University of the Basque Country, we have just started a project on the impact of the application of sewage sludge on soil health. In this project, we pay special attention to the ecotoxicological consequences of such application, using different end-points from microbial, plant and animal species. The project is carried out in a site located in the Basque Country.
One more academic year (2017-2018), we participate in the Master on Biodiversity, Function and Ecosystem Management (University of the Basque Country, Spain), coordinating a course on rehabilitation and bioremediation of contaminated soils. Apart from discussing the potential of soil microorganisms for the biological remediation of contaminated sites, during our talks, we strongly emphasize the key role of microorganisms for the functioning of the biosphere as a whole.
Carlos Garbisu is currently a member of the team of experts who are, at the moment, defining the new Euskampus (Campus of Excellence – University of the Basque Country and Tecnalia Corporation) Hub on Sustainable and Healthy Territories. This hub aims to promote research on fostering resilience in the Basque Country Territory against the different sources of environmental stress, with special emphasis on climate change. In this hub, we pay special attention to the connectivity between the terrestrial, river and marine ecosystems.
During our visit to Porto (Portugal), we discussed with Juan Vilela and Aitor Albaina from CEA (Centro de Estudios Ambientales, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain) and Txema Becerril from the University of the Basque Country our intention to submit new European proposals on the importance of preserving the unique biodiversity present in many metal contaminated sites, as well as on the importance of fostering biodiversity in phytoremediation and phytomanagement initiatives. Some of these proposals will focus on the links between biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.
Last week (18th April 2018, Porto), we presented data from some experiments carried out to study the links between microbial diversity and plant and animal (mesofauna, macrofauna) diversity. These experiments are included in Working Package 2 on Biodiversity from the PhytoSUDOE (Interreg) project. We focused our presentation on the links between structural and functional diversity in contaminated and remediated soils. In particular, we presented data obtained in some experimental sites located in Galicia (Spain) and Bordeaux (France), as part of our collaboration with Dr. Petra Kidd (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) and Prof. Michel Mench (INRA), respectively.
We attended the 2nd PhytoSUDOE (Interreg Project) Stakeholder Workshop held in the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Porto (Portugal, 17th April 2018). During such workshop, Carlos Garbisu from SMEG gave a talk on “Improvements in soil biodiversity and function after long-term implementation of phytomanagement options”. We focused our presentation on the importance of biodiversity conservation, owing to its potential effects on ecosystem stability (resistance and resilience). The concept of functional redundancy was also discussed. Finally, the fostering of biodiversity under phytomanagement was encouraged.
The last meeting of the PlantSoil group of the Spanish Society of Terrestrial Ecology on plant-soil interactions was held in Antequera (Málaga). In there, we presented the URAGAN project on the reduction of human health risk associated with the use of organic amendments of animal origin in agriculture, and the preliminary results obtained in the the microcosm experiment on the dissemination of antibiotic resistance as a consequence of fertilizing with amendments in different composting stages.