Soil Maps of Africa
GlobalSoilMap.net is a project started by a consortium of soil scientists to create a digital soil survey map of the entire world. It's a wildly fantastic undertaking, one which aims to provide an easily accessible tool to address nothing less than the most challenging global issues of our time: food security, climate change, environmental degradation, water scarcity and threatened biodiversity.
As avowed addicts of soil maps, we couldn't resist posting some of the gorgeous maps from the site. The maps we have selected, however, are the fading, dusty, conventional kinds — probably those saved from disintegration in some corner filing cabinets of some windowless office of some civil servant and then scanned and archived to help produce the next generation maps.
Specifically, we chose the ones of Africa, because these beautiful abstractions of geology often mask less beguiling ground conditions. In the case of Zimbabwe, its soil maps provide an illustrative history lesson on its colonial past (white farmers settled on the most productive polygons while black farmers were gerrymandered to less productive tendrils and globules) and also on its post-colonial hangover (those same polygons, tendrils and globules are the sites of violent land redistributions under Mugabe). In the case of Ethiopia and Sudan: famine, drought-induced genocide and harrowing stories of displacement.
Once finished, the digital soil maps will be freely available and web-accessible.