BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Soil Regions of the European Union and Adjacent Countries
1 : 5 000 000 (EUSR5000) Version 2.0

Country / Region: Europa

Begin of project: January 1, 2001

End of project: December 31, 2005

Status of project: March 31, 2011

Soil Regions Map of the European Union and Adjacent Countries 1 : 5 000 000 (Version 2.0)Soil Regions Map of the European Union and Adjacent Countries 1 : 5 000 000 (Version 2.0) Source: BGR

Comparable, georeferenced and high-resolution soil data are needed as basic information for the implementation and reporting in European environmental policies. That is why already in 1998, the European Soil Bureau (ESB) has developed a guidance which describes the methodology to develop a Europe-wide harmonized soil map 1:250,000 (Manual of Procedures of the Georeferenced Soil Database for Europe). While doing that it appeared that a regional stratification of soil map units according to so-called soil regions is needed: for example, Podzols in southwest France have different properties, and occur in different soil associations and soil landscapes than in northern Finland. In addition, such regional units are the basis to be able to systematically aggregate complex soil map legends in order to evaluate and meaningfully interpret results at the continental level (there are already 2,000–3,000 in Germany alone). Only after such an aggregation, results produced on the basis of such high-resolution maps can be presented in a clear and well-structured portrayal.

The original version 1.0 of the soil regions map, which is a product presented in the Manual of Procedures, has been completely revised with the version 2.0 (2005), which is presented and made available here. The following developments have triggered this revision:

  • The map legend had to be updated because the World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB) has been established as the common soil classification for comparing and presenting soils at the international, European level.
  • The Soil Geographical Database of Europe 1:1.000.000, which provides the necessary basic soil data for delineating the soil regions, has been majorly improved and extended.
  • In order to allow a better match between the soil regions and mapping data at national level, the soil regions had to be adjusted to a common topography: the Digital Chart of the World was chosen as the common topographic “denominator”.

Soil regions are natural, cross-regional soil geographical units which perform the highest spatial and content-based aggregation of European soils. They represent the frame conditions for soil development at the landscape level. The soil regions are presented at scale 1:5,000,000. Thus, its borders are highly generalized. Because of its low resolution, the map units absorb atypical soils and associations of soils. Although some important co-dominating and associated soils are described in the maps’s legend database, the suitable description of soils as soil typological units is only contained in the actual soil maps (1:1,000,000 and larger scales). However, the delineation of the soil regions is expected to be refined (and probably improved by its content) during the 1:250,000 mapping. Thus, updating can be expected in the future.

Currently, the soil regions map is the only graphical soil representation in Europe which has been developed using fully comparable and harmonized basic data at the continental level (climate, hydrography, relief, geology): the interpretation of this input data, and the utilization of expert knowledge (including the interpretation of regional soil maps) has been done using one common methodology, developed and applied consistently throughout the whole mapping area by an experienced international soil mapper (Dr. Reinhard Hartwich, former member of BGR, and co-author of the 1998 Manual of Procedures). The methodology is extensively described in the Explanatory Notes (German), and in the revised Manual of Procedures which is expected to be completed soon.


The products are free of charge (only setup fee resp. forwarding expenses) (available May 2011).

  • Data accessible via BGR productcenter

    • Digital data (ESRI shapefile)
    • Database with map legend (MS ACCESS DB)
    • Explanatory notes in pdf format (only in German; an English version has been prepared for the revision of the Manual of Procedures which is ongoing at the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the European Soil Bureau Network (ESBN)).
  • Web Map Service:
  • European Soil Data Centre Map Viewer (planned)

BGR [Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe] (2005). Soil Regions Map of the European Union and Adjacent Countries 1:5,000,000 (Version 2.0). Special Publication, Ispra. EU catalogue number S.P.I.05.134.

Contact 1:

Dr. Jörg Reichling
Phone: +49-(0)511-643-2366, Mobil: 0151-11717161
Fax: +49-(0)511-643-532366

Contact 2:

Dr. Einar Eberhardt
Phone: +49-(0)511-643-3733 und +49-(0)30-36993-274
Fax: +49-(0)511-643-2304

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