The role of soils in learning and inspiration, physical and psychological experiences, and in supporting identities

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Abstract

This paper reviews the literature on soil and nature's contributions to people (NCP) around learning and inspiration, physical and psychological experiences, and supporting identities, revealing a range of relationships to imagining, understanding and experiencing soil. Often labelled elsewhere as 'cultural ecosystem services', these NCP provide a range of benefits that are mostly non-material, non-consumptive and intangible. The review finds that NCP framings help to highlight how soils have contributed to inspiring learning and creative works, like art; to mental and physical health benefits, such as through recreation and gardening; and to cultural identities and practices, including religious practices and efforts for social justice. Overall, soils have played a large role in human creative endeavours, are the root of significant relationships to the environment and can be conceptualized through key metaphors, ideas and theory as a bridge linking culture and nature together. Yet despite the wide-ranging contributions of soils to these NCP, the literature remains uneven and much more remains to be understood, including how relational values of care and stewardship with soils can be fostered and how attention to the co-produced 'biosocial' nature of soil can help improve practices for soil health. This article is part of the theme issue 'The role of soils in delivering Nature's Contributions to People'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20200184
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume376
Issue number1834
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 27 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • cultural identities
  • ecosystem services
  • Nature's contributions to people
  • relational values
  • social benefits
  • soil science

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