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Special Issue "Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Katharina Helming

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability assessment; multifunctional land use; soil conservation; landscape synthesis
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Thomas Köllner

Faculty Biology, Chemistry und Geosciences GEO II, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: ecosystem services
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Bernd Hansjürgens

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (ZALF), Department of Economics, Leipzig, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: economics of ecosystem services
Guest Editor
Dr. Katrin Daedlow

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability assessment; soil resource management; social-ecological systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The role of soil functions for achieving Sustainable Development Goals are multiple. A productivity function is essential for food and biomass provision in support of food security (SDG 2) and energy security (SDG 7); soil carbon sequestration, which is paramount for climate action (SDG 13); and water purification and retention, nutrient and matter cycling, and the habitat function are essential for maintaining ecosystem services (SDG 15). While these soil functions emerge from interactive soil processes, it is soil management that intervenes with soil processes and, thus, determines the functional performance of soils, relative to their geo-biophysical potentials. The key for sustainable soil management is to stimulate soil processes, such that antagonistic effects between functions are minimized and their performances are optimized. In addition to improved soil process knowledge, this requires profound interdisciplinary methods, built on systemic perspectives for the assessment and governance of sustainable soil management. What are the impacts of soil management practices on sustainability targets in specific geophysical and socio-economic contexts? What methodological approaches, indicators and metrics are suitable to assess, inter alia, resource efficiencies, ecosystem services, cost-benefit-rations, and risks to human health? What are the opportunities and risks of current and future soil management technologies with regards to sustainability targets? How can different spatio-temporal settings and spill-over effects be addressed? How can institutional compositions and governance instruments be improved to enable decision makers to take action on sustainable soil management? How can soil management impacts be valued in light of varying normative perspectives and ethical concepts? What roles do stakeholders and their perceptions play for impact valuing of soil management decision making?

This Special Issue welcomes original contributions dealing with methodological improvements and applications for impact assessment and governance of soil management systems from the perspective of sustainable developments. Thematic contributions may include: Farmer perceptions on soil management, metrics and indicators for assessing resource efficiency of soil management, relation between soil functions and ecosystem services, ethical considerations of sustainable soil management, institutional issues, governance instruments and policy analysis.

Prof. Dr. Katharina Helming
Prof. Dr. Thomas Köllner
Prof. Dr. Bernd Hansjürgens
Dr. Katrin Daedlow
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Sustainability assessment
  • governance
  • soil management
  • soil functions
  • ecosystem services
  • resource efficiency
  • SDGs
  • indicators

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Towards Conservation Agriculture in Central Syria: Developmental insights from innovation driven research
Author: Baqir Lalani
Abstract: In this paper, we report on early outcomes from Conservation Agriculture (CA) benchmark sites located within the marginal rainfed environment of agro-ecological zone 4 (rainfall 200-250 mm) in pre-conflict Central Syria; and specifically those, which relate to beneficial soil health and water retention attributes relative to conventional (tillage based) land use management practices applied to the fodder barley-livestock system, the dominant system in the zone. In addition, we argue that in marginal environments where strong crop-livestock interactions exist, inclusive and equitable access to finance, functioning land rental markets, and efficacy in the provision of extension and advisory services through participatory approaches are key underpinnings for critical mass in the shift towards a more sustainable land use management paradigm. This is a somewhat different argument to that which suggests that competition for straw in feeding livestock, in lieu of utilization of some of it for ground cover, (generally) places a limit to the extent to which CA is applicable within drier marginal environments. In addition to supporting the notion that CA is an avenue for sustainable production intensification, we also argue that a shift in land use management paradigm towards CA is likely to additionally bode well for social and environmental resilience, particularly in those marginal environments where both pastoralism and agro-pastoralism production systems co-exist.


Journal Contact

Sustainability Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
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