World Reference Base, Land and Plant Nutrition Management Service, Land and Water Development Division, Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations

Data Center Description
The World Reference Base (WRB) was originally an initiative of
FAO and Unesco, supported by UNEP and the International Society
of Soil Science which dates back to 1980. The intention of the
project was to work towards the establishment of a framework
through which ongoing soil classification could be
harmonized. The final objective was to reach international
agreement on the major soil groups to be recognized at a global
scale as well as on the criteria and methodology to be applied
for defining and separating them. Such an agreement was meant to
facilitate the exchange of information and experience, to
provide a common scientific language, to strengthen the
applications of soil science and to enhance the communication
with other disciplines.

Several meetings of the ISSS subgroup were held starting in 1982
in New Delhi with unfortunately very little progress being made,
until it was realized in 1992, in Montpellier, France, that
there was no justification to develop a completely new
classification system very different from the Revised Legend
published by FAO in 1988. Therefore it was decided that the FAO
Revised Legend was to be adopted as the Framework for WRB?s
future work and that it would be the task of the working group
to further develop its definitions and linkages to the existing
FAO units, in order to give them more depth and validity.

The first draft version of WRB was presented at the 16th World
Congress of Soil Science at Acapulco, Mexico, and since then it
has been subjected to testing on consistency during meetings in
Germany (1995), Russia (1996), South Africa (1996), and
Argentina (1997). In November 1997, the last meeting was held in
Vienna, Austria, and a final text was adopted which was
consequently presented at the World Congress of Soil Science in
Montpellier, France in August 1998.


[Summary provided by the WRB.]