Soils Embrace Life and Universe The 20th World Congress of Soil Science
June 8~13, 2014 Jeju, Korea
[C4.5-2] Cultural Perspectives on Soils and Soil Science
Soil-Landscape as a Tool in Planning and Management of the City
Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Seoul National University, South Korea, Netherlands
Ignoring the soil in the city is not only highly cost-inefficient; it also means missing chances for a more resilient and more
meaningful cityscape. Cities are more and more at the frontline of a fight against degradation of humanity and its dealings with the
environment, therefore a more integrated management and planning of the city is urgently required. That it should depart from a
city’s soil-landscape is proposed in this paper.
The soil map is a clue to define a landscape that is in movement and in process. In a functional hierarchy of layers that defines
landscape – i.e. climate, geology, geomorphology, hydrology, soil, vegetation, fauna, land-use, and landscape patterns or
settlement – the soil layer is the turning point where the abiotic and the anthropogenic start influencing each other: soil is a
continuous record of this process. The soil map directly correlates to the geological, biological and ecological processes that
constitute our world, as well as the land use that we as humans pose upon it. These two sides address natural-scientific issues, and
processes of settlement that reflect in historicity. It is exactly the Gestalt-like approach of the field soil scientist and his soil map
that guarantees this two-sided approach. On the one hand soil science and the soil map correlate directly with other geo-related
sciences like agriculture, landscape ecology (faunistic, floristic, microbiologic), environmental control, forestry, geography,
geochemistry, geostatistics, geology, hydrogeology, or hydrology. On the other hand, as soil mapping fundamentally derives from
a field observation, it recognizes uniform characteristic pieces that constitute a coherent perceptual (emotional or visual) structure
of the landscape. This coherency is a structural characteristic of landscape and relates directly to identity of place. In environmental
psychology coherency in our perceived environment provides recognizable structure that enables orientation, positioning, spatial
cognition, even things like attachment to place, and personal or communal identity. If the soil-landscape of a city can be ‘read’ it
supports the ‘recognize-ability’ of an urban environment, also called readability, which contributes to identity and a sense of place.
This is fundamental to feelings of home and communality and therefore to well-being and health – in short the sustainability – of
individuals and communities.
Several cases of successful introduction of soil-landscape paradigms in urban planning and management will be shown to make the
method clear. As a more general applicable practice map overlay is proposed.
It presupposes that maps provide pertinent information and data on the city for its natural-scientific component as well as its
historic component; on this condition the layering of information shows the systematic soil-landscape with its geo-scientific aspects
in their relation to historical or cultural aspects. Map overlay of geo-data and history is a simple and effective way to make the
systematic of the urban soil-landscape visible and approachable for management and planning purposes. Maps might be as
advanced as in geographic information systems, but can also be historic and hand drawn. Map overlay, therefore can be applied to
any urban situation, rich or poor.
The Gestalt-like approach of the soil-landscape map is a clue to understand the systematic of the urban landscape. More in
particular map overlay as a tool to investigate it, will always increase the awareness of problems that are relevant when planning or
managing the urban. At the same time it leaves room for cultural, artistic, political or any other interpretation when implementing
planning or design. As such it poses a universally applicable, urgently needed tool for more integrated urban planning and
Keywords : geo-sciences, history, identity, resilience,