FAO.org

Home > Sustainable Development Goals > Goals > SDG 15. Life on land
Sustainable Development Goals
Forests cover 31% of world land area and shelter 18% of global population, but losses are driven mostly by agricultural land use change
Soils store nearly 3 times as much carbon as all terrestrial plants, but a third of the planet’s soils are degraded.
Vulnerable to climate change, mountains are home to 10% of global population and provide 70% of the world’s freshwater resources
While a third of the world’s land area is rangeland, 20% of grasslands are now degraded

Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

Healthy ecosystems protect the planet and sustain livelihoods. Forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in particular, provide myriad environmental goods and services - clean air and water, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. Forests and rangelands sustain a range of industries, generate jobs and income and act as a source of food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people.

Today, however, natural resources are deteriorating, ecosystems are stressed and biological diversity is being lost across the globe. Land use changes, including deforestation, result in a loss of valuable habitats, a decrease in clean water, land degradation, soil erosion and the release of carbon into the atmosphere. They contribute to the loss of valuable economic assets and livelihood opportunities.

FAO promotes sustainable approaches to natural resource management. The Organization’s assessment reports such as those on soils, forests and land degradation provide a basis for evidence-based decision-making. Multi-stakeholder alliances support inclusive governance approaches that promote a balance between conservation and development action.

Find out more

Indicators

The success of the Sustainable Development Goals rests to a large extent on effective monitoring, review and follow-up processes. SDG indicators are the foundation of this new global framework for mutual accountability. FAO is the ‘custodian’ UN agency for 21 indicators, for SDGs 2, 5, 6, 12, 14 and 15 and a contributing agency for four more.

15.1.1 Forest area as a percentage of total land area

15.2.1 Progress towards sustainable forest management

15.4.2 Mountain Green Cover Index

FAO Publications

Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015

The contributions of forests to the well-being of humankind are far-reaching. Forests provide vital wood supplies and help to combat rural poverty, ensure food security and provide decent livelihoods [...]

Status of the World's Soil

The SWSR is a reference document on the status of global soil resources that provides regional assessments of soil change. The information is based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, complemented with expert knowledge and project outputs [...]

State of the World’s Forests 2016

Forests and trees support sustainable agriculture. They stabilize soils and climate, regulate water flows, give shade and shelter, and provide a habitat for pollinators and the natural predators of agricultural pests [...] 

Share this page