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Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

State

Applicable for national use

Yes (find out more)

Indicator classification

Under development and included in the CBD’s list of indicators

Indicator type

State

Applicable for national use

Yes (find out more)

Indicator classification

Under development and included in the CBD’s list of indicators

Last update

2018

Coverage

Global

Availability

Data available on request

Partners

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United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

Contact point

Sara Minelli (sminelli@unccd.int)

Indicator description

According to the UNCCD definition, land degradation is defined as “the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest and woodlands resulting from a combination of pressures, including land use and management practices”. Total land area is the total surface area of a country less the area covered by inland waters, like major rivers and lakes. The indicator is expressed as a percent.

Information on the proportion of land that is degraded over total land area is going to be regularly collected and analysed by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) through its national reporting and review process beginning in 2018, and every four years thereafter.

The proportion of land that is degraded over total land area is also Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 15.3.1 corresponding to SDG target 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”. Indicator SDG 15.3.1 has been upgraded to Tier 2 in November 2017.

Related Aichi Targets

Primary target

5

Target 5:

By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Secondary targets

Target 15:

By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.

Primary target

5

Target 5:

By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

5
15

Related SDGs

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GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Target 15.3| Official indicator

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.

E sdg goals icons individual rgb 15

GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

E sdg goals icons individual rgb 15

Other related MEAs and processes

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UNCCD

Expected impact 3.1| Official indicator

Sustainable land management and combating desertification/land degradation contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the mitigation of climate change.

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UNCCD

Unccd logo3

Themes

Bip sustainable

Sustainable use of natural resources and land

View related indicators >
Bip sustainable

Partners

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Key indicator facts

Indicator type

State

Applicable for national use

Yes (find out more)

Indicator classification

Under development and included in the CBD’s list of indicators

Indicator type

State

Applicable for national use

Yes (find out more)

Indicator classification

Under development and included in the CBD’s list of indicators

Last update

2018

Coverage

Global

Availability

Data available on request

Indicator description

According to the UNCCD definition, land degradation is defined as “the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest and woodlands resulting from a combination of pressures, including land use and management practices”. Total land area is the total surface area of a country less the area covered by inland waters, like major rivers and lakes. The indicator is expressed as a percent.

Information on the proportion of land that is degraded over total land area is going to be regularly collected and analysed by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) through its national reporting and review process beginning in 2018, and every four years thereafter.

The proportion of land that is degraded over total land area is also Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 15.3.1 corresponding to SDG target 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”. Indicator SDG 15.3.1 has been upgraded to Tier 2 in November 2017.

Contact point

Sara Minelli (sminelli@unccd.int)

Graphs / Diagrams

Current storyline

The data collection process for UNCCD reporting has begun with the first reporting period scheduled for 2018 and subsequent reporting every four years. Data from the 2018 reporting period will be released by February 2019 in national, sub-regional, regional and global formats.

The indicator is currently under development. Data are being collected through the 2018 UNCCD reporting and review process. A series of regional capacity building workshops are planned during the period March-May 2018 under the auspices of the Global Support Programme (“Strengthening UNCCD reporting –enhancing implementation of the UNCCD”) which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and executed by the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD. The workshops will enable countries to prepare and submit UNCCD national reports by mid-2018, which in turn will inform SDG reporting at the regional and global level in February 2019. Workshop participants will include UNCCD national focal points and designated representatives of national statistical offices. The geographical scope of these regional capacity building efforts will be global and include all UN Member States, with a focus on countries with developing and emerging economies.

In response to a decision of the UNCCD’s governing body in September 2017, a new Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Initiative on Land Degradation Neutrality is being created to assist countries and regions to build national capacities for monitoring and reporting on land degradation. Once the GEO Initiative on LDN has been formally adopted, there will likely be opportunities to follow up on these workshops and provide targeted assistance throughout 2018. A capacity building work plan for 2019-2022 will be developed to increase the country coverage and the level of confidence in the indicators among national authorities.

Data and methodology

Coverge: Global, regional, sub-regional and national (196 Parties to the UNCCD)

Scale: Global data/ aggregated from national data. Currently, data underpinning the indicator are mainly derived from remote sensing data soures which have global coverage and can be disaggregated to the national level. Through the UNCCD reporting and review process, countries will interpret and verify national estimates derived from global data sources and, eventually, replace them with other national data.

Time series available: 2000-2015

Next planned update: Updates released every four years (next planned update 2022)

Possible disaggregations: National and sub-national level by land cover type or other spatially explicit land unit.

Methodology: A conceptual framework (http://www2.unccd.int/sites/default/files/documents/2017-08/LDN_CF_report_web-english.pdf), endorsed by the UNCCD’s governing body in September 2017, underpins a universal methodology for deriving the indicator.

The indicator is derived from a binary classification of land condition (i.e., degraded or not degraded) based on three sub-indicators (and associated metrics):

  • Land Cover (land cover change)
  • Land Productivity (land productivity dynamics)
  • Carbon Stocks (soil organic carbon stocks)
  • Quantifying the indicator is based on the evaluation of changes in the sub-indicators in order to determine the extent of land that is degraded over total land area. The sub-indicators are few in number, complementary and non-additive components of land-based natural capital and sensitive to different degradation factors. The One Out, All Out (1OAO) principle is applied: if one of the sub-indicators is negative (or stable when degraded in the baseline or previous monitoring year) for a particular land unit, then that land unit would be considered as degraded subject to validation by national authorities. This rule is applied as a precautionary measure, because stability or improvements in land condition in any of the three indicators cannot compensate for degradation in the others.

    National use of indicator

    Producing this indicator nationally: National capacities to process, interpret and validate geospatial data still need to be enhanced in many countries. In response to a decision of the UNCCD’s governing body in September 2017, a new Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Initiative on Land Degradation Neutrality is being created to assist countries and regions to build national capacities for monitoring and reporting on land degradation. The space-based information and in situ measurements provided to countries from this Initiative will serve multiple purposes, from the climate and biodiversity agendas to disaster risk reduction and environmental decision-making in general.

    Use of the global method and data at national level: The indicator is derived primarily, and to the largest extent possible, from comparable and standardized national official data sources. To a certain extent, national data on the three sub-indicators is and can be collected through existing sources, including participatory inventories on land management systems as well as remote sensing data collected at the national level. However, due to the nature of the indicator, Earth observation and geospatial information from regional and global data sources can play an important role in its derivation, subject to validation by national authorities.

    For countries where no data or information is available, the UNCCD and its partners provides, via the UNCCD reporting process, default national estimates from global data sources that would then be validated by national authorities. The ultimate determination of the extent of degraded land made by national authorities should be contextualized with other indicators, data and ground-based information.

    Data reported by the countries themselves will follow a standardized format for UNCCD national reporting that will include the indicator and sub-indicators as well as their data sources and explanatory notes. Once received, national reports will undergo a review process by the UNCCD and its partners to ensure data integrity, correctness and completeness, the correct use of definitions and methodology as well as internal consistency.

    Differences between global and national figures may arise due to differences in spatial resolution of datasets, classification approaches (i.e. definition of land cover classes) and/or contextualization with other indicators, data and information.

    In order to assist countries with monitoring and reporting, Good Practice Guidance for SDG Indicator 15.3.1 (http://www2.unccd.int/sites/default/files/relevant-links/2017-10/Good%20Practice%20Guidance_SDG%20Indicator%2015.3.1_Version%201.0.pdf) has been developed by the UNCCD and its partners.

    Examples of national use: In 2014-2015, 14 countries participated in the UNCCD’s Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) pilot project (http://knowledge.unccd.int/knowledge-products-and-pillars/ldn-target-setting-building-blocks/lessons-learned-14-pilot-4) to set LDN targets, including the use of the methodology and data options for reporting on the three sub-indicators. All of the countries established baselines based on these sub-indicators, either by using national data and/or global default data provided by the UNCCD and its partners. This pilot project demonstrated the importance of upfront technical assistance and country-tailored advisory services for overcoming data analysis challenges and barriers.

    Launched in 2016, the LDN Target Setting Programme (http://www2.unccd.int/actions/ldn-target-setting-programme) is now supporting 115 participating countries and their national LDN working groups, which are comprised of representatives from key stakeholders across sectors (including ministries, civil society, research, private sector and development partners), in reviewing and validating LDN baselines and targets. As of February 2018, over 60 of the 115 countries participating in the LDN-TSP have established and validated a baseline for the indicator. A number of regional and national workshops and meetings have been conducted since 2016 and more are planned for 2018. Results are expected to become publicly available towards the beginning of 2019.

    Availability of global data for national use: Data currently used to calculate the indicators are mainly derived by:

    1) the European Space Agency’s Climate Change Initiative Land Cover dataset which provides consistent global land cover maps at 300 m spatial resolution on an annual basis from 1992 to 2015 (http://maps.elie.ucl.ac.be/CCI/viewer/);

    2) the Joint Research Centre's Land Productivity Dynamics (LPD) dataset which provides consistent global LPD maps at 1km spatial resolution covering the period 1999 to 2013 (http://wad.jrc.ec.europa.eu/); and

    3) the ISRIC's SoilGrids250m which is used to derive SOC average (ton/ha) to 30 cm (https://soilgrids.org/#!/?layer=TAXNWRB_250m&vector=1).

    Contact persons for supporting national use: Sara Minelli (sminelli@unccd.int), Sasha Alexander (salexander@unccd.int)

    Further resources

    Key indicator facts

    Indicator type

    State

    Applicable for national use

    Yes (find out more)

    Indicator classification

    Under development and included in the CBD’s list of indicators

    Indicator type

    State

    Applicable for national use

    Yes (find out more)

    Indicator classification

    Under development and included in the CBD’s list of indicators

    Last update

    2018

    Coverage

    Global

    Availability

    Data available on request

    Partners

    Logo horizontal colour options 07

    United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

    Contact point

    Sara Minelli (sminelli@unccd.int)