Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

Sourced from the UN:
Forests cover 30.7 percent of the Earth’s surface and, in addition to providing food security and shelter, they are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. By protecting forests, we will also be able to strengthen natural resource management and increase land productivity.

At the current time, thirteen million hectares of forests are being lost every year while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares. Even though up to 15% of land is currently under protection, biodiversity is still at risk. Deforestation and desertification – caused by human activities and climate change – pose major challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the fight against poverty.

Efforts are being made to manage forests and combat desertification. There are two international agreements being implemented currently that promote the use of resources in an equitable way. Financial investments in support of biodiversity are also being provided.

Facts and Figures

Forests
  • Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood, including 70 million indigenous people.
  • Forests are home to more than 80 percent of all terrestrial species of animals, plants, and insects.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas. Poor rural women depend on common pool resources and are especially affected by their depletion.
Desertification
  • 6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, but 52 percent of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation.
  • Arable land loss is estimated at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.
  • Due to drought and desertification, 12 million hectares are lost each year (23 hectares per minute). Within one year, 20 million tons of grain could have been grown.
  • 74 percent of the poor are directly affected by land degradation globally.
Biodiversity
  • Illicit poaching and trafficking of wildlife continues to thwart conservation efforts, with nearly 7,000 species of animals and plants reported in illegal trade involving 120 countries.
  • Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction.
  • Of the over 80,000 tree species, less than 1 percent have been studied for potential use.
  • Fish provide 20 percent of animal protein to about 3 billion people. Only ten species provide about 30 percent of marine capture fisheries and ten species provide about 50 percent of aquaculture production.
  • Over 80 percent of the human diet is provided by plants. Only three cereal crops – rice, maize and wheat – provide 60 percent of energy intake.
  • As many as 80 percent of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant-­‐based medicines for basic healthcare.
  • Micro-organisms and invertebrates are key to ecosystem services, but their contributions are still poorly known and rarely acknowledged.

Resources & References