30.6.2021 Helsinki

Registration for the event is now open. Below you can find a link to the registration form.

Soil at risk

Soil sustains life on our planet. It provides us with food and clean water. Healthy soil is teeming with diversity: a quarter of the world’s species live underground. The soil is also a large carbon store that mitigates climate change.

Our current way of using land threatens to render the soil unsuitable for cultivation during the next 60 years. We are in danger of losing the foundation of all life.



Change of the date: Because of the situation with COVID-19 we decided to postpone the symposium and will not organize the event in November 2020. New date for the symposium is 30.6.2021.

The Soil at Risk symposium on 30.6.2021 in Helsinki brings together a wide variety of research and practical information on protecting agricultural soil. The symposium invites researchers, farmers, businesses and decision-makers to answer vital questions together: How do we safeguard the soil for future generations? What kind of cultivation practices for soil regeneration are needed?  

The symposium is co-organised by the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, the Baltic Sea Action Group and the Forum for Environmental Information.


To register for the symposium, please complete an on-line registration form. Deadline for the registration is 31 May 2021. Reservations will be handled on a “first come – first served” basis. The event is free of charge and open to researchers, students, companies, decision-makers and general public. 

PRELIMINARY Seminar program

Rooms: TBA

8.30 Registration and coffee
9.00–11.45 Insights into soil
9.00–9.05 Welcoming words
9.05–9.20 Soil at risk: reasons and consequences.
Ronald Vargas, Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership,  FAO
9.20–10.10 I Soil is full of life and offers us many benefits – how to protect it?
Keynote: Impacts of human-induced disturbances on soil communities and their functioning
Franciska de Vries, Professor of Earth Surface Science, University of Amsterdam 
Finland’s perspective: Carbon Action – regenerative agriculture enhancing soil health. Saara Kankaanrintachair of BSAG and Carbon Action
Interview: Franciska de Vries and Saara Kankaanrinta facilitated by symposium host
10.10–10.30 Break
10.30–11.20 II Plant-soil interactions – biodiversity as an aim and a tool
Keynote: The impact of global change on soil functions and microbial diversity.
Matthias Rillig, Professor of Plant Ecology, Freie Universität Berlin
Finland’s perspective: TWINWIN - Using biodiversity as a tool to enhance carbon sequestration in agriculture.
Jussi Heinonsalo,
University Researcher, University of Helsinki &
Anna-Liisa Laine, Professor of Ecology, University of Zurich
11.20–12.10 III Soil mitigating climate change. Experimenting and verifying soil carbon sequestration
Keynote: Experimenting and verifying soil carbon sequestration.
Dr. Jean-Francois Soussana, INRAE’s vice-president of international research policy
Finland’s perspective: Verification system for the carbon sequestration developed in Carbon Action
Jari Liski, Research Professor and Head of Climate System Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute
Interview:  Jean–Francois Soussana and Jari Liski, facilitated by symposium host
12.10-13.30 Lunch
Soil art by Teemu Lehmusruusu
13.30–17.00 Solutions for soil – together with the Scientific Community
SESSION 1. Business: Sustainable soil-friendly finance and companies

Michaela Ramm-Schimdt, Managing Director of the Baltic Sea Action Group

Why is soil health important for OP Financial Group? Kati Ihamäki, Vice President Brand and Corporate responsibility, OP Financial Group.

• Scientific perspective: A just transition to a low-carbon food system - what is the role of businesses?
Minna Kaljonen, Senior research scientist, Finnish Environment Institute.

• Practical perspective: Soil health and sustainability in food business – opportunities and challenges,
Juha Nousiainen
, SVP Carbon-neutral Milk Chain, Valio

• International perspective: Carbon farming and business examples from France, Jean-Francois Soussana, INRAE’s vice-president of international research policy

SESSION 2. Protecting the soil with decision-making and steering instruments

Chair: Markku Ollikainen, Professor at University of Helsinki

Keynotes & scientific perspectives:

Differerent steering mechanisms protecting soil, Markku Ollikainen

The potential of EU’s agricultural policy to address soil health, Jyrki Niemi, Research Professor, Natural Resources Institute Finland.

Practical perspectives from EU and national level:

• European decision making protecting soil: tools provided by Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy?
Ville Niinistö, Member of the European Parliament

• National decision making protecting soil: do the different instruments steer to the same direction? Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

SESSION 3. Farming healthy soil

Chair: Juuso Joona, farmer and educator, Carbon Action project

Keynote & scientific perspective:
Practices and challenges of carbon farming
Tuomas Mattila, Senior Research Scientist, Finnish Environment Institute

• Practical perspective: Elisa Malin, Carbon farmer, Baltic Sea Action Group

• International perspective: Soil structure as a limiting factor of soil health, Thomas Keller, Professor, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

• Farmers Unions perspective: Liisa Pietola, Head of environmental affairs, The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) and Mats Nylund, President, The Central Union of Swedish-speaking Agricultural Producers (SLC): Solutions from agricultural soil

15.45 PANEL DISCUSSION: Guiding change together for living soils
Chairs: Minttu Jaakkola, Maj & Tor Nessling Foundation & Laura Höijer, Baltic Sea Action Group
17.00 Wine and snacks
Hidden life in the soil. Presentation and pictures by Jari Haimi
Soil art by artist Teemu Lehmusruusu


Soil in spotlight


During the ‘soilweek’, soil was widely visible in social media and in newspaper columns. Thank you everyone who participated in… Read the full post »


What is your relationship with soil? Post a #SoilSelfie!

The soil under our feet sustains life. There may be more organisms in a handful of soil than there are… Read the full post »


Kerro suhteestasi maahan #SoilSelfie’llä

Maa jalkojemme alla ylläpitää elämää. Kourallisessa maata voi olla enemmän eliöitä kuin maapallolla ihmisiä. Viimeisen 150 vuoden aikana planeettamme maaperä… Read the full post »

Kasviksia_Cropped_Saara Kankaanrinta

High-quality food from healthy soil

What does food quality mean? Finns understand the technical aspects of food quality, such as the cold chain, security of… Read the full post »

Photo: Cano Arias


”For carbon sequestration it is essential to keep the soil continuously covered in vegetation”, explains farmer Eliisa Malin to MEP… Read the full post »

Crops by melissa-askew

Soil teeming with life slows climate change

The soil under our feet is teeming with life. It is populated by earthworms, springtails and microscopic single-cell organisms, microbes…. Read the full post »

Photo: Paul Mocan

Soil at risk – action needed

About a third of our global soils have been already degraded. In this first blog and video of the Soil… Read the full post »


Sowing the seeds of change

This category with blogs and videos related to healthy soil and sustainable food production will be updated soon.




Franciska de Vries

Professor of Earth Surface Science at the University of  Amsterdam. Her research focuses on understanding the response of terrestrial ecosystems and their functioning to global change. She is particularly interested in how feedbacks between plants and soil microbes are altered under changing environmental conditions, and how a mechanistic understanding of these feedbacks will allow us to predict and mitigate ecosystem response to climate change.



Mathias C. Rillig

Professor of Ecology at Freie Universität Berlin, and director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research. He is interested in soil biodiversity, especially fungi, and the effects of drivers of global change on soils.



Jean-Francois Soussana

Vice-Chair of INRAE for international affairs. He is a member of the Working Group II of IPCC and was the lead author of the  IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. He is also member of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the initiative “4 per 1000 Soils for Food Security and Climate” and a board member of the ’Soil Health and Food’ mission for Horizon Europe programme (2021-2027)



Ronald Vargas

Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership at FAO. Mr. Vargas has been promoting sustainable soil management in the global agenda since 2010 through the establishment of this partnership. Main driver of International Year of Soils, World Soil Day, Revised World Soil Charter, Status of the World’s Soils Resources Report, Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management, Recarbonization of Global Soils and many others.



Saara Kankaanrinta

Environmental influencer with many tools: she is Chair and Co-Founder of Baltic Sea Action Group, Carbon Action platform and Co-Founder of Soilfood Ltd and Q Power Ltd. She is a board member of Sulapac Ltd. Kankaanrinta also owns the oldest manor of Finland, Qvidja Research Farm, together with her husband. She is a member of global eco-networks related to soil carbon sequestration and ecosystem restauration and human health. Kankaanrinta has been awarded personal Medal of Honour at the Globe Energy Award.



Anna-Liisa Laine

Professor of Ecology at the University Zurich and visiting professor at the University of Helsinki where she directs the Research Centre for Ecological Change. She leads a research program investigating the complex web of interactions that link species to one another in nature, and she has been a strong advocate for how our understanding of biodiversity can be used to develop a sustainable future.

Jussi Heinonsalo_MV


Jussi Heinonsalo

University researcher at University of Helsinki. His research concentrates on investigating the impact of plant-microbial interactions on soil carbon and nutrient cycling and climate impact. Currently he leads research in Maj and Tor Nessling foundation funded TWINWIN project and Strategic Research Council (STN) funded MULTA consortium, and acts actively in Finnish CarbonAction project.

Jari Liski


Jari Liski

Research Professor and the head of climate system research at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. He studies carbon sequestration and climate impacts of land ecosystems at various scales, using different measuring and modeling methods. He is the developer of soil carbon model Yasso; a standard component of Max Planck Institute Earth System Model and a part of national greenhouse gas inventory systems under the UNFCCC. Jari Liski leads the research in Carbon Action Initiative.

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Kati Ihamäki

Professional in sustainable development, works as Vice President Brand and corporate responsibility at OP Financial Group. Kati Ihamäki is also vice-chair of The Central Chamber of Commerce's Responsibility Board and member of the UN Global Compact Finland’s Board of Directors. Previously she worked as  Director Corporate Sustainability at Finnair.



Tuomas Mattila

Senior research scientist at Finnish Environmental Institute. He is a farmer, scientist and educator (Holistic Management CE). He has three academic degrees and over 10 years of practical experience on managing Kilpiä farm which won the WWF most environmentally friendly farm in Finland award in 2018 . He educates other farmers to regenerate their soils.

Jyrki Niemi-7_MV


Jyrki Niemi

Jyrki Niemi is a Research Professor at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). He has almost 30 years of experience in the analysis of agricultural policies and food markets in Finland and the EU. His research subjects include international trade policies as well as EU and domestic agricultural policies. Empirical analysis of the agri-food supply chains in Finland has played a central role in his research. He has also vast experience in research-based policy advice.



Markku Ollikainen


Michaela Ramm-Schmidt_MV


Michaela Ramm-Schimdt

Michaela Ramm-Schimdt is the Managing Director of the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG). She has 20 years of experience from a variety of industries and organizations. Michaela is passionate about responsible business and sustainability has for a long time been an integral part of her work. As Managing Director Michaela is in charge of the operational activities of BSAG, alongside Content Director Laura Höijer. Michaela also heads the Foundation’s activities related to corporate relations and fundraising. Michaela is a lawyer by training, and holds an Aalto Executive Education Diploma in Responsible Business and is currently finishing her Executive MBA from Henley Business School.

Minna Kaljonen_MV


Minna Kaljonen

Dr. Adj. Prof. Minna Kaljonen works as a Senior Research Scientist at the Finnish Environment Institute. She has studied governance of sustainable food systems over 20 years and published widely on environmental governance and food system transitions. In her research she has developed experimentative and deliberative methods, that can assist in finding solutions to sustainability problems together with societal actors. She currently leads a transdisciplinary research project on Just transition (www.justfood.fi/en), which investigates ways to tackle injusticies on our way to more sustainable and healthy food systems.

BrandPhoto_Valio_PREMIUM_1123_Juha_Nousiainen (2)_MV


Juha Nousiainen

Senior Vice President in Valio Ltd, responsible of the Carbon-neutral Milk Chain -program in Valio. Formerly SVP for Primary production and Milk procurement in Valio Ltd.  A long working experience (35 years) within European dairy business. Specialized in the primary milk production including crop production, silage making, silage analytics, nutritional management of dairy cows on silage-based diets, milk composition and milk hygiene. The new area of expertise is modelling and system- and meta-analysis in milk production and environmental effects of milk production. A broad publication activity, both scientific and practical, covering the whole milk chain.



Jaana Husu-Kallio

Since February 2012, Dr. Jaana Husu-Kallio has been the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland. Since 2016 she has been a chair of the management board of European Food Safety Authority, a member since 2012. Previously her roles included Director-General of the Finnish Food Safety Authority (from 2006) and Deputy-Director General of DG Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission (from 2002). Before she joined the European Commission she worked in the Ministry as a Chief Veterinary Officer.

Ville Niinistö_MV


Ville Niinistö

Ville Niinistö is a Member of the European Parliament. He is the Greens/EFA groups coordinator in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and member of the Committee on Environment.

Niinistö served as Finland’s Minister of the Environment from 2011 to 2014. Niinistö is a former member of the Finnish parliament, former party leader of the Green Party of Finland and a current member of the city council of Turku.



Juuso Joona

Juuso Joona is a carbon farmer, educator and co-founder of the Carbon Action project. He is developing regenerative farming methods and making mistakes on behalf of the other farmers in his regenerative family farm in South East Finland and educating farmers. Juuso is also making research of soil carbon sequestration and soil improvement methods as a doctoral student in University of Helsinki and R&D agronomist in Soilfood Ltd. Juuso sees carbon sequestration into the soil as a key to mitigate climate change and improve the regenerativity of the farming.

Eliisa Malin_MV


Eliisa Malin

Eliisa Malin is a farmer in South Finland and works also as an designer in Baltic Sea Action Group. She is an agronomist, who tests carbon farming methods on her home farm and works to improve farmers, consumers and decision makers knowledge about regenerative farming. Vierelä organic farm is one of the hundred Carbon Action farms in Finland.




Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller is a professor of soil mechanics and soil management at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). His research focuses on interactions and feedbacks between soil biological processes and soil structure, on soil management impacts on soil health and crop productivity, and on effects of soil compaction on soil functions as well as prevention of soil compaction

Laura Höijer_BSAG_kuvaaja_ Laura Oja_MV


Laura Höijer

Laura Höijer is Content Director at Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG). During her twenty-plus years in the environmental field she has worked as a researcher, research funder, in business and in administration.  As Content Director Laura is responsible for BSAG’s current and future initiatives and projects. She also leads the foundation in co-operation with Managing Director Michaela Ramm-Schmidt. Laura holds a PhD in soil microbiology and is a docent in microbial ecology. Currently, BSAG is “loaning” Laura as she is on temporary leave from her position as Research Director at the Ministry of the Environment.



Minttu Jaakkola

Minttu Jaakkola is working as the Research Director at the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation. She is responsible for putting the Foundation’s mandate, to support solution oriented environmental research and the use of environmental knowledge in the society, into action. Minttu’s background is in Biology with a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Helsinki. Previously she’s been working in science administration and coordination as well as developing and teaching multidisciplinary sustainability and responsible business studies at the University of Turku. Minttu is motivated by building bridges across people, disciplines and sectors to create collaborative knowledge that will change the world.

Jari Haimi_muokattu


Jari Haimi

Senior lecturer in biology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He has studied biological phenomena in northern forest soils for more than 30 years. Especially, he is interested in earthworms and their role in decomposition processes and nutrient cycling as well as in the effects of human impact on soil biodiversity and soil health.


Teemu Lehmusruusu_MV


Teemu Lehmusruusu

Teemu Lehmusruusu is a media and environmental artist, as well as a doctoral student of artistic research at Aalto University. Through his artistic practice Lehmusruusu examines our relationship with the invisible dynamics of the natural surroundings. While based in Helsinki, Lehmusruusu also works at his "land art farm" situated in Kemiönsaari, two hours outside Helsinki. At this experimental ranch the regenerative artistic practice takes direct contact with soil and the surrounding ecosystem, a feature that is increasingly seen in his published works as well. The artistic project, “Trophic Verses – Säkeitä ravintoketjulta” led by Teemu, works in collaboration and dialogue with Carbon Action.

Liisa Pietola_kuva Jaana Kankaanpää elokuu 2019


Liisa Pietola

Ph.D. in soil sciences and agronomy. Liisa Pietola is the Head of Environmental Affairs at the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners MTK, on environmental externalities and impacts related to agriculture and forestry, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation and water and biodiversity protection by healthy productive soils and their management, including landowner’s property rights and legislation proposals both in Finland and EU level. She is also Member of Finland’s Committee of Sustainable Development.


The symposium will be held at the conference center Finlandia Hall, which is close to the Scandic Park Helsinki Hotel. The hotel and venue for the symposium are easy to reach via tram or bus.

Thirty rooms have been reserved at a special price for guests of the symposium from Scandic Park Helsinki. Standard Single person rooms can be booked for 167€/night. Standard rooms for two people cost 187€/night. Both prices require bookings to take place by 15th of June 2021.

Rooms can be booked at the Scandic Park Helsinki website using booking code BMAJ290621.

If you wish to contact the hotel directly, you can reach Scandic Park Helsinki by calling +358 9 47 371 or emailing parkhelsinki@scandichotels.com

Reservation code BMAJ290621 must be mentioned.

Hotel address is Scandic Park Helsinki, Mannerheimintie 46, 00260 Helsinki.

For more information on the hotel, please, visit Scandic Park hotel website.



The Soil at risk symposium will take place at Finlandia Hall, Mannerheimintie 13e, 00100 Helsinki


For more information on the program, speakers or practicalities, contact the symposium coordinators.


Minttu Jaakkola
+358 40169 6325

Outi Silfverberg
+358 503413265

Laura Höijer
+358 505862680


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