GAEZ v.4 and FAO-GAEZ Data Portal

The project will update the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD) V1.2 and transfer the Global Agro-ecological Zones (GAEZ) technology released by IIASA in 2010 to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations

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Version 4 of the Harmonized World Soil Database is used as a source of soil resource data to allow spatially detailed evaluation of both soil qualities and edaphic crop suitability. The Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD) comprises a geographical layer containing reference to some 30,000 soil mapping units. This information is stored as a 30 arc-second map unit raster in a geographic information system linked to an attribute database. It includes 17 soil attributes generalized for 0-30 cm and 30-100 cm soil depth.

The part of the HWSD relating to Africa has recently been updated by JRC during production of the Soil Atlas of Africa (Jones et al., 2013). It is intended to use this HWSD update for Africa in GAEZ v4.


The Global Agro-ecological Zones (GAEZ) data portal contributes to the sustainable management of land, water, and genetic resources. It enables improved responses to global environmental challenges affecting food and agriculture. It particularly enables a concerted organization response by countries to i) promote and develop sustainable land management, ii) improve use of soil and land resources, and iii) improve the global agro-ecological zone assessments through high resolution indicators for agro-ecological suitability, area harvested, and yield and productivity at various levels.

Project objectives

  • Update GAEZ database using new land cover, climate, crop statistics and other datasets up to 2010.
  • Extend GAEZ database with newest available IPCC AR5 climate projections.
  • Conduct AEZ analysis with updated baseline 2010 database.
  • Collect and compile input data for a GAEZ update to year 2010.
  • Assist FAO in planning an international GAEZ consortium.
  • As a core activity, prepare project proposals for the next stage of GAEZ development and for FAO organizational outputs related to global, regional, and national assessments.

  • Transfer knowledge and technology to FAO staff and work with FAO staff to run the analysis and establish the operational GAEZ capacity at FAO Headquarters.
  • Complete transfer of GAEZ technology and ensure there is the capacity at FAO HQ to undertake independent GAEZ assessments.


  • Extend the year-by-year agro-climatic assessments to 2010.
  • Apply IPCC AR5 climate model outputs for the four RCPs to obtain agro-climatic resources inventories and crop potentials for the 2020s,  2050s and 2080s.
  • Undertake downscaling of agricultural production statistics (for average 2009-2011 harvested area, yield and production) and, based on downscaled yields and production, undertake downscaling of irrigation water use statistics.
  • Calculate apparent yield gaps for 2010. Establish the updated GAEZ database at FAO.
  • Assist with setting up a functional GAEZ model system capacity at FAO to undertake AEZ assessments, and maintain the database.
  • Extend the GAEZ data portal with results from the GAEZ baseline update to 2010. 

Project partner

FAO Land and Water Division (NRL)

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Last edited: 04 July 2019


Günther Fischer

Distinguished Emeritus Research Scholar Water Security Research Group - Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program

Harrij van Velthuizen

Guest Senior Research Scholar Water Security Research Group - Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program


1 April 2013 - December 2018

Full details of the latest version, GAEZ v4.0

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313