Monitoring progress on mountains in the SDGs

While there are three mountain-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), target 15.4 is fully dedicated to conserving mountain ecosystems: 

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

The Mountain Partnership Secretariat at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the custodian agency of target 15.4. Therefore, it has developed the official indicator, the Mountain Green Cover Index, for monitoring progress towards the achievement of this target. The Mountain Green Cover Index is designed to measure changes of the green vegetation in mountain areas (i.e. forests, shrubs and trees). It builds on the recognition of a positive correlation between green coverage of mountain areas and their state of health and capacity to fulfil their ecosystem roles. In particular, the Mountain Green Cover Index can provide information on the forest and woody cover. Its reduction will be generally linked to forest exploitation, timber extraction, fuel-wood collection and fire. Its increase will be due to vegetation growth, possibly linked to reforestation or afforestation programmes.

FAO Collect Earth and the 2015 global map of mountains produced by FAO/MPS are the data sources for the index. Resulting from an innovative collaboration between FAO and Google, Collect Earth is the most modern technology available for global land use and land cover monitoring. Each country will be responsible to validate its national data.

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