"We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all."

Wangari Maathai

Biodiversity refers to the variety and number of species of life found within certain regions and in the world as a whole. An ecosystem is an ensemble consisting of a specific environment and the living beings in it. There are a great number of different species within the same ecosystem, and a huge number of different ecosystems on earth. 

Forests: Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood. Forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

Desertification: 2.6 billion people depend on agriculture, but 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation. Due to drought and desertification, each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares per minute), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown. Globally, 74% of the poor are directly affected by land degradation.

Biodiversity: 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 their potential use.

Learning About SDG 15

Run Time: 1:40 - Aug 22, 2018

SDG 15 Info

Run Time: 3:58 - Jan 25, 2017

Facts and Figures

Source (United Nations Development Programme)

1.6 billion

Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods.


Forests are home to more than 80 percent of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

2.6 billion

2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture for a living.


Nature-based climate solutions can contribute about a third of CO2 reductions by 2030.

$125 trillion

The value of ecosystems to human livelihoods and well-being is $US125 trillion per year.


Mountain regions provide 60-80 percent of the Earth's fresh water.

SDG 15 Info

Run Time: 2:04 - Aug 25, 2017

SDG 15 Info

Run Time: 1:18 - Nov 4, 2017

Thomas & Friends

Run Time: 1:31 - Sep 7, 2018

SDG 15 Explained

Run Time: 2:46 - Nov 20, 2018

Website: UN Sustainable Development Goals

This website provides facts, targets, printouts, links and related stories and videos about SDG 15 - Life on Land.

Forests cover 30.7 per cent 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.

Go to website to learn more

Website: SDG Goal Tracker

SDG 15 Targets

This website provides facts, targets, and related  stories about programmes contributing to SDG 15 - Life on Land.

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

Go to website to learn more

Website: UN Development Programme

This website provides facts, and related stories about SDG 15 - Life on Land.

Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihoods. Plant life provides 80 percent of the human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resources. Forests cover 30 percent of the Earth’s surface, provide vital habitats for millions of species, and important sources for clean air and water, as well as being crucial for combating climate change.

Every year, 13 million hectares of forests are lost, while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares, disproportionately affecting poor communities.

While 15 percent of land is protected, biodiversity is still at risk. Nearly 7,000 species of animals and plants have been illegally traded. Wildlife trafficking not only erodes biodiversity, but creates insecurity, fuels conflict, and feeds corruption.

Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage and support global food and water security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and peace and security.

Go to website to learn more

Additional SDG 15 Videos &  Information 

Life On Land Articles

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COP15: Nations Reach 'Historic' Deal to Protect Nature (Dec 2022)

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At COP 15 in Montreal, Canada, nations agreed to protect a third of the planet for nature by 2030 in a landmark deal aimed at safeguarding biodiversity. Targets for protecting vital ecosystems such as rainforests and wetlands and the rights of indigenous peoples were also agreed to.

SDG 15 - Life on Land- Ted Talks

Run Time: 10:38 - Feb 22, 2017

ECOSIA: The Search Engine That Plants Trees

Ecosia uses the ad revenue from your searches to plant trees where they are needed the most. By searching with Ecosia, you're not only reforesting our planet, but you're also empowering the communities around our planting projects to build a better future themselves. Give it a try.

Land Degradation Neutral World

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Detecting Biodiversity Using DNA

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Can Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change?

Run Time: 4:46 - Oct 2020

Sanctuaries of Silence & Activities

Run Time: 7:15 - May 8, 2018
Conversation CardsHow to Use the cards to deepen your students’ learning…
  • As pre-film warm-ups to introduce the topics and themes
  • As catalysts for post-film discussions
  • As writing prompts for personal reflections or essays
  • To spark ideas for action or class projects