Soil Ecosystem Service – Cultural and natural archives

Outputs: The Preserved heritage of former/ancient cultures, preserved natural phenomena.

Definition: The cultural and natural archives soil ecosystem service is the capacity of soils to preserve/save/stop degradation and the extinction of artefacts made from a variety of materials humans were using in the past (e.g. pottery, jewellery, tools, bones, metals, etc. ) or built structures (foundations of houses, roads, workshops, etc.).  A particular soil can be the natural phenomena when they feature attractive, rare, unique structures and features, or they just cover and preserve some natural features (biological phenomena) from being destroyed by humans or natural processes.

Relevant effects, processes and controlling soil properties: Soil archive function depends on somewhat a modest number of soil parameters. These parameters can differ, but in general, most important soil properties that establish conditions that preserve cultural heritage from degradation/mineralization are soil depth, acidity, texture, water holding capacity, water saturation, permeability, base saturation, and nutrients. Soil properties can contribute to stable conditions that ‘conserve’ the remaining heritage. In relation to soil itself as a natural phenomenon, soil properties are a subject of the phenomenon itself.

Relations to the entire ecosystem: The capacity of the soil to act as a cultural and natural archive is closely related to some specific soil properties (e.g. acidity, permeability, depth, water holding capacity, etc.) and several soils forming factors, yet it is difficult to link this service to the particular ecosystem services directly. In fact, the archive service stands as a parallel service.

Relations to other soil ecosystem services: The archive service is not directly linked to other soil ecosystem services; it ruins in parallel with other soil ecosystem services.

Land use impacts: The ability of soils to carry out the archive function is often threatened or even nullified by the land use-change, usually intensive agriculture (e.g. deep ploughing) or even destroyed when remaining’s are damaged by, e.g. building infrastructure or housing or threatened by land use. Thus, these sites should be recognised and protected in order to preserve natural or cultural heritage.

Climate change impacts: The climate change (CC) impacts the provision of this soil ecosystem service are difficult to assess mainly because of a broad range of particular and site-specific impacts. For example; the CC may cause degradation, drying and oxidation of peats soil. The consequence, in this case, is rapid mineralization of peat and degradation of objects embedded in peat. In general, climate change can affect archive soil function through a variety of soil degradation processes (promoted erosion, organic matter depletion, flood, landslides, etc.)

Demand aspects: There is neither quantified or human (ecological) demand to the soil archive service in terms of essential needs. However, humans indirectly benefit by gaining additional knowledge, and through admiring cultural artefact or admiring natural phenomena.


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