Goal 15: Life on Land

Our fate as a species depends on the state of our most important habitat – land. Our future is linked to the survival of land ecosystems. Through photosynthesis, plants provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat and are thus the foundation of most life on Earth. They’re also the source of a majority of medicines in use today. Of the more than 300,000 known species of plants, the IUCN has evaluated only 12914 species, finding that about 68% of evaluated plant species are threatened with extinction. A third or more of all the roughly 6300 known species of amphibians are at risk of extinction. Globally, an estimated 12% of known 9865 bird species are now considered
threatened, with 192 species, or 2%, facing an “extremely high risk” of extinction in the wild. Of the 1.3 million known invertebrate species, the IUCN has evaluated about 9,526 species, with about 30 percent of the species evaluated at risk of extinction. About 90% of primates live in tropical forests, which are fast disappearing. The IUCN estimates that almost 50% of the world’s primate species are at risk of extinction. Overall, the IUCN estimates that half the globe’s 5491 known mammals are declining in population and a fifth are clearly at risk of disappearing forever with no less than 1131 mammals across the globe classified as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable. In addition to primates, marine mammals — including several species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises — are among those mammals slipping most quickly toward extinction. Globally, 21 percent of the total evaluated reptiles in the world are deemed endangered or vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN — 594 species.
It is very important to preserve land because, Land and forests are the foundation of sustainable development. Forests cover 30% of the Earth’s surface and, in addition to providing food security and shelter, are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and are home to the indigenous population. Forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. At the same time, around 1.6 billion people also depend on forests for their livelihood, including some 70 million indigenous people. Over 80% of the human diet is provided by plants, with rice, maize and wheat providing 60% of energy intake. In addition, 80% of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant-based medicines to provide their basic healthcare.
Preserving life on land requires concerted action not only to protect terrestrial ecosystems, but to restore them, and promote their sustainable use for the future. Goal 15 calls for urgent action to halt the degradation of natural habitats, to end the poaching and trafficking of animals, and to integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into local planning and development processes. Safeguarding places which are important from the point of view of biodiversity is another effective tool, and as of 2014, 15.2% of the earth’s terrestrial and freshwater environments had been protected.