World Data Centre for Soils (WDC-Soils)

The remit of the World Data Centre for Soils (WDC-Soils), as a regular member of the ICS World Data System (WDS), is to provide a focus for soil-related collections and information services.  Our holdings include soil specimens, country documentation, as well as a range of geo-referenced databases. They can be used to underpin a wide range of studies of environmental, societal and economic sustainability.


  1. Accreditation and certification
  2. Trusted steward of soil information
  3. Collections and information services
  4. Data policies and Service level agreements
  5. History


Accreditation and certification

In 1989, ISRIC was accredited as the 'World Data Centre for Soils' by the former World Data Center (WDC) System (now World Data System (WDS)).  

Regular members of the WDS are evaluated on a 3-yearly basis as part of the comprehensive and transparent ISC-WDS re-accreditation process:

  • 2018 (24 July): ISRIC WDC-Soils certified as trusted data repository by the CoreTrustSeal Board (PDF).
  • 2018 (30 Nov.): ISRIC WDC-Soils re-accredited as WDS Regular Member by the WDS Scientific Committee (PDF).

Certification helps us to review and improve the quality and transparency of our processes.

Members of ISC-WDS are registered as a Participating Organization of the Intergovermental Group on Earth Observations (GEO). 



WDS Members' Forum (02 Nov. 2014, Jawaharlal Nehru University Convention Centre, New Delhi)


Trusted steward of soil information

ISRIC is a regular member of the World Data System (WDS). The World Data System (WDS) is an Interdisciplinary Body of the International Science Council (ISC, formerly ICSU). The mission of the WDS is to support ISC’s vision by promoting “long-term stewardship of, and universal and equitable access to quality-assessed scientific data and data services, products, and information across a range of disciplines in the natural and social sciences, and the humanities.”

ISC-WDS aims to build worldwide ‘communities of excellence’ for scientific data services. It certifies Member Organizations —holders and providers of data or data products— from wide-ranging fields by using internationally recognized standards.

WDS Members are the building blocks of a searchable common infrastructure, from which a data system that is both interoperable and distributed can be formed. As such, member organizations of ISC-WDS have a strong and tangible commitment to open data sharing, data and service quality, and data preservation.

Our workflows for safeguarding, quality-assessing, standardising / harmonising and serving soil data to the world, using FAIR principles, are described here.

As a contribution to SciDataCon-IDW2018, and to fine-tune our workflows, we assessed 'how well the WDC-Soils is serving its user groups' (PDF). In 2020, we presented our recent work and activities envisaged for the coming 3-5 years during the on-line '2020 WDS Members' Forum', held as part of the WDS-supported international symposium ‘Global Collaboration on Data Beyond Disciplines’. Our most recent Annual Report is available here.



Go to ISRIC records in                                                


Collections and information services

Within the WDS, ISRIC provides the focal point for soil-related collections and information services, as custodian and creator of global soil information.

We maintain and safeguard a range of soil specimen holdings (monoliths, samples, thin sections, and hand specimens) through the World Soil Museum. Another important element of our work is the data rescue programme. This programme is aimed at safeguarding older (legacy) data (maps, reports, point data) which may be at risk of loss or deterioration, and digitizing these materials for on-line distribution. These and newer materials, as contributed/shared by our partners, provide the 'raw' data for further quality control, standardisation, harmonisation, and analyses in order to serve the international community with quality-assessed soil data (point, polygon, grids). These materials may be consulted on site at our premises in Wageningen and/or on-line through our website. 



                                                     Scope of ISRIC WDC-Soils holdings


Data policies and Service Level Agreements

• ISRIC Data and Software Policy 

• ISRIC Collection Management Policy 

• ISRIC Digital Data Preservation Policy 

• ISRIC Service Level Agreements 

• ISRIC Privacy and Cookie Statement



Some 23 years after its inception, in 1989, ISRIC obtained the status of ICSU World Data Centre in recognition of its "unique collection of soil monoliths, maps and reports on the geography of soils and related natural resources". Initially named WDC for Soil Geography and Classification, it was later renamed to WDC-Soils to reflect the broadened scope of its long-term soil data stewardship. 

Since 2011, ISRIC is a regular member of the ICS (formerly ICSU) World Data System. In recognition of its long-term soil data stewardship, and role of trustworthy provider of world soil information, it has kept the name 'WDC-Soils'.