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Eurosoil 2004

EUROSOIL is a new congress which was realized for first time in Reading, Great Britain in 2000. From September 4-12, 2004, EUROSOIL was held again in Freiburg, Germany. In 2008, Vienna, Austria will invite the pedological community to EUROSOIL.
More than 1100 working soil scientists and practitioners from over 65 countries took up our invitation to come to EUROSOIL in Freiburg. There were more than 1000 contributions of oral and poster presentations. The conference's program consisted of 25 symposia, organized by convenors and co-convenors, four poster sessions guided by poster convenors, a meeting point for young scientists ("jobs & more"), an opening ceremony (with lectures from Mrs. Lieve van Camp, Brussels, EU-commission and Steven Nortcliff, secretary general of the IUES), an excursion program including the neighboring nations of France and Switzerland, and some social events (welcome-party, conference dinner, reception of the convenors, co-convenors, and key-note speakers by a representative of the city of Freiburg in the "Kaisersaal" of the historical "Kaufhaus", invitation by the president of the IUSS, Don Sparks and the secretary general, Steven Nortcliff to inform about the international soil science conference 2006 in Philadelphia, USA).
The excellent reception of EUROSOIL by the pedological community showed that we met the requirements for a soil forum between that of the large international soil conferences of the IUSS and the national soil summits with focus on themes with local relevance. The creation of a European soil confederation, on the initiative of W. E. H. Blum, is a milestone in the European soil science. This confederation will surely improve the conditions for lobbying for soils on a European level.
Compared with great conferences in exclusive convention centers, EUROSOIL 2004 in Freiburg might be themed "back to the basics of scientific exchange" and therefore "back to simplicity". In that sense, we tried to emphasize the core business of the exchange of ideas, keeping the costs as low as possible as to be affordable for young people, too. We believe that we had good success in achieving this goal.
A scientific conference is brought to life by the motivation and hard work of the organizers, convenors, key-note speakers, and from the quality of lectures, posters, and discussions. In my opinion, EUROSOIL was an energetic meeting for the exchange of ideas and the discussion of soil-related issues. During the coffee breaks, many groups of young people could be heard intensively discussing soil issues and were a main feature of EUROSOIL, which gives us reason not to worry about the future of soil science. Last but not least the fine weather and the beautiful city of Freiburg with its stimulating surrounding area may have helped to make EUROSOIL a success. Among the numerous scientists involved in the organization of EUROSOIL, I would like to give special thanks to my colleagues Thorsten Gaertig, Maik Scheurer, Karl Stahr, and Klaus von Wilpert for their untiring help and for much (unselfish) trouble-shooting.
However, one drop of bitterness should be mentioned: although we made great efforts (we had organized an intensive press-seminar and invited numerous journalists) the coverage of EUROSOIL in the press, radio, and television was rather poor. Apparently, soils are not the focus of public interest, and it is difficult to create an awareness of the fascinating object "soil" without help from the media. May EUROSOIL 2008 in Vienna, Austria have more success in this field!

E. E. Hildebrand

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