Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Our environment provides us with everything we need from the air that we breathe, to the food that we eat, to the natural resources needed to keep us moving forward. But unfortunately, that nurturing relationship has been quite one-sided in recent years. Increases in population and economic development have put incredible stress on our environment and it’s resources. It’s estimated that human activity has altered nearly 75% of the earth’s surface, squeezing our forests and wildlife into ever-shrinking corners of the planet. The health of ecosystems that we, and all life on Earth, depend on are deteriorating at an incredible rate, and though some progress has been made to help reverse the damage we have caused, there is a lot of work to be done. Since the dawn of humankind, our planet has taken care of us. It’s time we return the favor.

Below are some other statistics related to Goal 15 from the United Nations;

  • 2 billion hectares of land on Earth are degraded, affecting roughly 3.2 billion people
  • 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, many within the next few decades
  • Each year, 10 million hectares of forest are destroyed
  • Roughly 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood, including 70 million indigenous people
  • Forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects
  • Arable land loss is estimated at 30 to 35 times the historical rate
  • 74% of the poor are directly affected by land degradation globally
  • Nearly 7,000 species of animals and plants have been reported in illegal trade involving 120 countries
  • Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8% are extinct and 22% are at risk of extinction
  • Of the over 80,000 tree species, less than 1% have been studied for potential use
  • Over 80% of the human diet is provided by plants. Only 3 cereal crops – rice, maize and wheat – provide 60% of energy intake
  • Only one third of 113 countries are on track to achieve their national target of integrating biodiversity into their national planning
  • For more statistics related to our Oceans, please see the Goal 15 Progress site here

Goal 15 Targets:

  • 15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • 15.3 By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world
  • 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
  • 15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
  • 15.6 Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed
  • 15.7 Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products
  • 15.8 By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species
  • 15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
  • 15.A Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems
  • 15.B Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation
  • 15.C Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

This Month’s Challenge:

In April 2021, we have Goal related data from the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal Database, with regional data on all of the targets listed above. This month’s data can be found on our data.world site here.

If you would like participate, you can use data from any source, but the overall goal is to focus your analysis on some of the topics mentioned in the Targets section above.  If you come across other interesting datasets, please let us know so we can add them to our data.world project.  The deadline for submission will be April 30, 2021. Make sure to tag us in your submission, add the #TheSDGVizProject hashtag, and add your submission to #TheSDGVizProject tracker.

As we mentioned on our Home page, building a viz is not the only way to participate.  Our main goal is to spread awareness, so if you see a viz with #TheSDGVizProject, please share it.  And keep an eye out for a post at the end of the month with ways that you can contribute to this month’s goal.


Centre for Humanitarian Data

Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX)

Global SDG Indicators Database

Goal 15 Progress

Goal 15 Info