Soil mapping in the Pacific has significant challenges. In particular, islands are often remote, populations are small, financial resources and expertise very limited, and through emigration of highly trained people institutional strengthening is often short-lived, requiring rebuilding to leverage past development work.
While land areas are often small and aid resourcing has been available to generate valuable and often large scale soil mapping and soil knowledge, it is clear that in-country capacity to use and understand that information can be a limiting factor. Much of this legacy soils mapping and soils data is still relevant but it is generally hard to access and under-utilized. As a result land management decisions are not always as well informed as they could be.
The Pacific Soil Portal (PSP) is a regional effort to collate and make available information, knowledge and advice relating to soils more readily available to a wide variety of soil and land users. This initiative started as a collaboration between Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research (MWLR) and the Pacific Community’s Land Resources Division (SPC-LRD) and was endorsed by the Heads of Government Departments from 23 PICTs at Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HoAFS). More recently it was supported by the Pacific Soil Partnership which united New Zealand, Australia, and 15 PICTs as a regional node of the FAO Global Soil Partnership (GSP - http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/en/).
This support lead to a 3-year project “Soil management for resilient agriculture in Pacific Islands”funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), lead by CSIRO with collaborators from MWLR, SPC-LRD and five PICTs (Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu) that included funding to develop and release this Pacific Soils Portal.