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Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area-Indicator 15.3.1

This indicator is defined as the amount of land area that is degraded. The measurement unit for indicator 15.3.1 is the spatial extent (hectares or km2) expressed as the proportion (percentage) of land that is degraded over total land area.

How is this indicator measured?


According to the SDG Metadata document created by UNCCD, this indicator is calculated by:

1) summing all those areas subject to change, whose conditions are considered negative by national authorities (i.e., land degradation) while using “good practice guidance” when measuring and evaluating each of the following three sub-indicators:

  • i) land cover and land cover change,
  • ii) land productivity, and
  • iii) carbon stocks above and below ground.

The most common method involves the use of site-based data to assess the accuracy of the sub-indicators derived from Earth observation and geo-spatial information.

Another approach uses site-based data to calibrate and validate Earth observation indices and measures where the remote sensing variable is used to predict the same biophysical variable on the ground.

See SDG indicator 15.3.1 metadata document (link is external).

UNSD has announced that the 6th Meeting of the IAEG-SDGs will take place in Manama, Bahrain from 11-14 November 2017. Custodian agencies are expected to submit their request for reclassification including key documents in support of their request by October 2, 2017.

Why is it important?


Pressures from food producer and demands from industries are stressing arable lands, pastures, and other essential areas. Land degradation decreases crop cultivation. Water and other resources grow scarce. Food insecurity can be a consequence, ultimately forcing populations to migrate to survive.

Indicator 15.3.1 focuses primarily on the use of three sub-indicators, including land cover and land cover change, land productivity, and carbon stocks above and below ground.  However, many countries currently lack the necessary methods, data and expertise to monitor and report on land degradation.

Who is working on monitoring this indicator? UNCCD

See other related indicators