SDG 15: Life on Land

What’s the goal here?

To sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.


Forests cover nearly 31 per cent of our planet’s land area. From the air we breathe, to the water we drink, to the food we eat–forests sustain us.

Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood. Almost 75 per cent of the world’s poor are affected directly by land degradation.

Forests are home to more than 80 per cent of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. However, biodiversity is declining faster than at any other time in human history. An estimated 20 per cent of the Earth’s land area was degraded between 2000 and 2015.

Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it underpins can also be the basis for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies as they can deliver benefits that will increase the resilience of people to the impacts of climate change.

Forests and nature are also important for recreation and mental well-being. In many cultures, natural landscapes are closely linked to spiritual values, religious beliefs and traditional teachings.

What can we do?

Inevitably, we change the ecosystems we are a part of through our presence–but we can make choices that either affirm diversity or devalue it.

Some things we can do to help include recycling, eating a locally-based diet that is sustainably sourced, consuming only what we need, and limiting energy usage through efficient heating and cooling systems. We must also be respectful toward wildlife and only take part in ecotourism opportunities that are responsibly and ethically run in order to prevent wildlife disturbance. Well-managed protected areas support healthy ecosystems, which in turn keep people healthy. It is there-fore critical to secure the involvement of the local communities in the development and management of these protected areas.