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.