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SDG15.3.1 key results


proportion of degraded land

20 percent of the Earth’s total land area (more than 2 billion hectares), an area nearly the size of India and the Russian Federation combined, was degraded between 2000 and 2015, resulting in a significant loss of services essential to human well-being.

That estimate is based on data reported by 123 countries and estimates for an additional 40 countries based on global datasets. It is relatively conservative given the underlying sub-indicators, which only represent three variables: changes in land cover, land productivity and organic carbon in soil.

In all regions, except Europe and Northern America at 10 per cent and Northern Africa and Western Asia at 7 per cent, the extent of degradation covered 22.4 per cent to 35.5 per cent of land area, directly impacting the lives of over one billion people.

Global trends in land cover indicate a net loss in natural and semi-natural classes of land which resulted from direct and indirect factors, including deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices and urbanization, as well as land tenure and poverty. Significant declines were also observed in the productivity of land cover classes.

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