SDG 15: Life on land

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.

Land ecosystems provide a series of goods, raw materials, food, and a series of ecosystem services including the capture of carbon, maintenance of soil quality, provision of habitat for biodiversity, maintenance of water quality, as well as regulation of water flow and erosion control. Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture for a living, and 80% of forests are home to more than 80% of all species of animals, plants, and insects.

Unfortunately, human activity has adversely affected the earth's lands and forests. Over 10 million hectares of forest are destroyed each year — driven mainly by agricultural expansion. Biodiversity is declining faster than at any other time in human history with over 31,000 species threatened with extinction. Globally, one-fifth of our planet's land area is degraded — undermining the well-being of some 3.2 billion people and increasing the rate of species extinction, and intensifying climate change.

Intense and unsustainable farming, the increased use and exploitation of wildlife, and the climate crisis are all driving the increased emergence of zoonotic diseases. Every year, some two million people, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, die from neglected zoonotic diseases. The same outbreaks can cause severe illness, deaths, and productivity losses among livestock populations in the developing world, a major problem that keeps hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers in severe poverty.

Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land, invites all stakeholders to focus specifically on managing forests sustainably, halting and reversing land and natural habitat degradation, successfully combating desertification, and stopping biodiversity loss.

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