Sustainable Development Goals

Indicator 15.4.2 - Mountain Green Cover Index

The Mountain Green Cover Index (MGCI) measures changes in the area of green vegetation in mountain areas (forest, shrubs and pasture land, and cropland). This information will help identify the status of conservation of mountain environments in order to measure progress towards SDG Target 15.4.

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.


This indicator ensures that mountains are efficiently managed, and a better balance is struck between conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Key results

Mountains cover about 27 percent of the earth’s land area and are home to about 1.1 billion people as well as around 30 percent of the total land identified as Key Biodiversity Areas.

New data based on satellite imagery reveals that about 73 percent of the world’s mountains are covered in green vegetation (forests, grasslands and croplands). Eastern and South Eastern Asia has the highest proportion of green mountain cover, at 87 percent. Western Asia and Northern Africa has the lowest cover, at 63 percent.

As of 2017,  baseline data for the Mountain Green Cover Index has been developed. Disaggregated information by elevation class (UNEP-WCMC mountain classification by Kapos et al.) and for each IPCC land cover class (forests, cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlements, other land) has also been estimated. The Mountain Green Cover Index is an effective tool to show how mountain ecosystems evolve and to assess their state of  conservation and health.

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