Cooperation between WG Urban Soils of the German Soil Science Society and the Laboratoire Sols et Environnement UMR 1120 UL-INRA of the Université de Lorraine, Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France was the impulse to establish an international working group Urban Soils. This was straightaway welcomed and supported by Wilfried E. H. Blum, the Secretary General of the International Soil Science Society (ISSS, today International Union of Soil Science, IUSS). The 16th World Congress of Soil Science was a good opportunity and the International WG Urban Soils – Soils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic and Mining Areas (WG SU/SUITMA) of the ISSS was founded at August 20th, 1998 in Montpellier France during the IUSS Congress.

SUITMA started its activity at the 16 WCSS in Montpellier with a symposium (no 28) on ‘Urban and suburban soils: nature, management and risks for human health’ (Burghardt, 1999). The excursion ‘A-l of the 16th WCSS: Lorraine, Alsace, Franche-Comté’ offered the study, evaluation and management of urban and industrial soils.