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.

Mountain Green Cover Index


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

Key results

Mountain ecosystems are hotspots for terrestrial biodiversity, yet are especially vulnerable to climate change, which puts biodiversity and the livelihoods of mountain and adjacent lowland peoples at risk. 

Mountains cover about 22 percent of the earth’s land area and are home to some 915 million people. They host more than 85 percent of the of the world’s species of amphibians, birds and mammals. In addition, they provide vital resources, such as clean water, to a significant proportion of the global population.

However, mountain ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change, which threatens their ability to continue providing ecosystem services. This is particularly alarming when mountain peoples are already among the world’s most food insecure, with about one in three mountain dwellers facing the threat of food insecurity.

The green coverage of mountain can provide information about their state of health and therefore about their capacity to fulfil their ecosystem roles. New data based on satellite imagery at a 300 meters resolution reveals that about 73 percent of the world’s mountains are covered in green vegetation (forests, grasslands, wetlands and croplands).

  • Oceania is the region with the highest proportion of green mountain cover, at more than 95 percent.
  • Western Asia and Northern Africa has the lowest cover, at approximately 55 percent.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has a mountain cover of 92 percent, followed by Eastern and Southern Asia at 85 percent and Latin America and the Caribbean at 81 percent.
  • Northern America and Europe and Central and Southern Asia have green mountain covers between 65 and 67 percent.

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