skip to primary navigationskip to content

Defining and measuring healthy soil

Soil is a non-renewable resource and is one of the Earth’s most important natural capital assets, and there is growing recognition of the importance and dependence that companies have on soil.

About


Leading companies are interested to understand where they can reduce their impacts on soil and demonstrate improvements. This necessitates a good understanding of what good soil represents, how it can be measured and what indicators are appropriate to communicate this to key stakeholders and decision-makers. 

Since 1960, one-third of the world’s arable land has been eroded and degraded and the rate continues at about ten million hectares per year. Apart from the goal of securing supply chains, sustainable soil management is important for companies to reduce regulatory, reputational and market risk. Consideration of soil is lacking in many corporate strategies; it tends to be included with land impact measures which do not provide insight on soil health.

to find out how to participate in becoming better informed about how to measure soil and developing an accepted, simple methodology for soil metrics.

 

Our work


Soil health: Evidence review

July 2017 – Many leading food and beverage sector organisations have demonstrated progress in managing natural capital impacts in their direct operations, including greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Many recognise, however, that the largest impacts occur in their upstream value chains, particularly on farms where raw materials are produced. A key natural capital resource is soil, and managing soil health is one way in which businesses may be able to reduce their negative land use impacts.

Soil health: Evidence review - Read More…

The commercial logic to measuring natural capital

June 2017 – The launch of the Natural Capital Protocol has led businesses to become more aware of their impacts and dependencies upon the natural environment. However, a need has been identified to link to commercial drivers to these impacts and dependencies across businesses. Simple metrics and key performance indicators that relate these two could be a next step to embedding natural capital into business operations and strategies. This working paper sets out the outcomes of a small piece of qualitative research. It explores the use of different metrics for standard business processes by sustainability professionals and their relationship to natural capital measures.

The commercial logic to measuring natural capital - Read More…

Healthy ecosystem metric framework

May 2017 – Investors and companies want to demonstrate their positive impacts on natural capital and show they are reversing the trend of natural environment degradation. The challenge is to identify metrics that are relevant for businesses’ decision-making processes, whilst being simple and practical for investors to use. This working paper outlines the concept for such metrics as developed by members of the Natural Capital Impact Group. It explores how the metric can be categorised as impacts upon the quality and quantity of soil, water and biodiversity. The paper explains the simple methodology that can be applied for business to calculate their impacts consistently and comparably, focusing particularly on the biodiversity component of this metric (soil and water components will be described in separate papers).

Healthy ecosystem metric framework - Read More…

How businesses measure their impacts on nature

May 2017 – Opportunities exist for investors and companies to demonstrate positive impacts and show they are reversing the trend of natural capital degradation. This working paper explores the challenges with identifying metrics that are relevant for businesses’ decision-making processes, whilst being simple and practical for investors to use. It is concluded that there is a lack of comprehensive, commonly accepted metrics that can be used by business and investors to consistently demonstrate their impact upon natural capital. CISL are working with a group of investors and multinational companies to explore and develop these metrics in response to this gap. This working paper represents the first output from CISL led research.

How businesses measure their impacts on nature - Read More…

Resilience in commercial forestry: Doing business with nature

March 2017 – A new Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership report presents the case for natural resources to be better considered in commercial forestry decision-making processes.

Resilience in commercial forestry: Doing business with nature - Read More…

Threading natural capital into cotton

11 February 2016 – A new Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership report, produced jointly with leading global businesses, addresses natural capital challenges in the cotton industry that impact all actors, from farmer to retailers.

Threading natural capital into cotton - Read More…

Members

Members small

Share this

Contact

Gemma Cranston

Dr Gemma Cranston, Director, Natural Capital

 | T: +44 (0)1223 761711