Goal 15: Life on Land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Terrestrial ecosystems are fragile. If they become unbalanced, they impact negatively on the global climate and force many people into hunger and poverty.

Healthy forests, soil, rivers, lakes and mountains are habitats and also maintain important cycles.  Every year 7.6 million hectares of forest are destroyed, which is about the size of Ireland. Non-sustainable agriculture causes huge tracts of land to become unfertile every year. Species diversity is dwindling at a terrifying pace. Animals are losing their natural habitats as a result of environmental destruction, or are falling prey to illegal hunters. Deserts are expanding and alien plant species are forcing out indigenous flora in many areas.

What must be done?

Terrestrial ecosystems already destroyed must be restored, and those that are still intact must be protected. Land and forests around the world must be managed sustainably. Many countries have realised how serious the consequences of forest destruction are, and are working to protect these resources. But their efforts are not enough. Developing countries, where wood is often still the only source of energy, must shift to renewable energy.

People must urgently put a stop to the loss of biological diversity, for instance by taking more rigorous action against poachers, focusing more on sustainable agriculture and preventing the spread of invasive species. Above all, national and local policies must take more account of the imperatives of protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, and all actors, also at international level, must invest more in achieving this goal.

Facts and figures

  • Plants make up 80 per cent of our food.
  • Forests cover 30 per cent of the world’s landmass and are home to 80 per cent of all flora and fauna.
  • More than 23,000 plant, fungus and animal species were extremely endangered in 2015.
  • More than 50 per cent of farmland is now affected by moderate or serious degradation.
  • Every minute 23 hectares of land are lost as a result of drought or desertification.

15.1 Protect terrestrial ecosystems

By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

15.2 Healthy forests

By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

15.3 Combat desertification

By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

15.4 Preserve mountain ecosystems

By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

15.5 Preserve biodiversity

Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

15.6 Access to genetic resources

Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed

15.7 End poaching

Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

15.8 Prevent introduction of invasive alien species

By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species

15.9 Use of economic indicators

By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts

15.a Promote financial assistance for biodiversity

Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems

15.b Finance sustainable forest management

Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation

15.c Enhance support to combat poaching

Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

“For Ethiopians and people in other developing countries, biodiversity should be looked at from the perspective of our daily survival. It should not be considered as something very far from us rather as something on which we totally depend for our very survival. The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and all other basic things we want for our survival are originating from biodiversity.”

Source: Ethiopian Press Agency

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22 September 2021

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