SDG 15 Courses: Life on Land

Forests cover around 31 per cent of Earth’s areas. Forests are vital for our survival-from the air we breathe, food we eat and water we drink. It has been estimated that livelihoods of 1.6 billion people depend on forests, while 75 per cent of the poorest are directly affected by land degradation. Around 80 per cent of total terrestrial species of insects, animal and plants live in forests. Nevertheless, biodiversity has never been declining faster at any other time in human history. The results show that around 20 per cent of land area on Earth was degraded between 2000 and 2015. Around one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction. Forests are key to combating climate change and preserving homes of indigenous peoples. It is our duty to protect forests since in many cultures, they are closely connected to spiritual values, traditional teachings and religious beliefs.

Presently, around 13 million hectares of forests are lost every year. Degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares. Biodiversity is at high risk since deforestation and desertification, both caused by human activities, and climate change represent big challenges to sustainable development. Therefore, the goal by 2030 is to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.

There are many efforts to combat desertification and manage forests. According to the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, to achieve sustainable forest management there is a need for $ 70 to 160 billion per year. Furthermore, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity the cost to halt the loss of biodiversity at the global level per year would be from % 150 to 440 billion per year by 2050. Additionally, the statistics show that insects and other pollen carries are worth more than $ 200 per year in the global food economy, while around three quarters of global prescription drugs contain components that are derived from plant extracts and the loss of the biodiversity threatens that. There is a need to protect ecosystems since they are part of our lives and thus we can make smart choices. Some of these choices include recycling, eating food that is sustainably sourced and locally based, consuming only what we need and limiting the usage of energy through efficient cooling systems and heating. We can also participate in ecotourism opportunities that prevent wildlife disturbance in an ethical ways. Therefore, it is crucial to involve local communities in management and development of protected areas.

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