/SDG 15: Life on Land

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

Icon SDG15


Georg Gratzer
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Tel: +43 1 47654 91215


Sophia-Marie Horvath
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Tel: +43 1 47654 91222

Agenda 2030

The "Future is Now", a report by a group of independent scientists commissioned by the UN Secretary-General to determine the implementation status of the 2030 Agenda, identifies six entry points to transformation (Independent Group of Scientists appointed by the Secretary-General, 2019). One of these entry points are the Global Environmental Commons. SDG 15, with its focus on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and species and their diversity, represents a key point of this entry gateway. Protecting and restoring species and their habitats (and thus achieving SDG 15) is therefore an essential means of transformation and can also have a positive impact on achieving other goals of the 2030 Agenda if sufficient consideration is given to existing interactions (synergies and trade-offs).

SDG 15 Targets:

15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

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

15.4 By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

15.6 Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed

15.7 Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

15.8 By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species

15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts

15.a Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems

15.b Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation

15.c Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

All targets will be scientifically screened by UniNEtZ and options for meeting this target by 2030 will be developed for this purpose.

Situation in Austria

The loss and endangerment of species and habitats and the pressure on soils are the decisive topics of SDG 15. These are also highly relevant for Austria. In the UniNEtZ working group on SDG 15, concrete options for action were developed that contribute to solve these problems, if possible without having a negative impact on the achievement of other goals.
In particular, the loss and endangerment of species and habitats, which are addressed in sub-goal 15.5, is currently one of the biggest problems worldwide (see also IPBES, 2019). Precise figures are lacking for Austria, but evidence of a strong negative trend is also visible here. In addition to intensification of land use and abandonment of extensively farmed land, soil sealing is an important factor in habitat loss and species endangerment (Essl at al., 2018), which is particularly high in Austria (Eurostat, 2019; Umweltbundesamt, 2021).
For Austria, the status quo of the achievement of Goal 15 was presented within the framework of UniNEtZ, including telecoupling effects, i.e. externalizations of biodiversity pressures through domestic production (e.g. through imports of soy feed for livestock) or domestic consumption. Based on this, options for action were developed that contribute to the achievement of the goal. Effects on other goals are taken into account in order to benefit from positively reinforcing effects (synergies) and to avoid negative effects (trade-offs).

Option list

(based on the options report to be published)

The options elaborated by the SDG groups are to serve as a means of communicating to the federal government which concrete options can be set by Austria in order to implement the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The options report will be published on 02.12.2021.

  • Option 15.1: Ecologisation of agriculture
  • Option 15.2: Life rafts for nature: ecological areas in agriculture and forestry to address the biodiversity crisis.
  • Option 15.3: Ecologisation of land use - soil
  • Option 15.4: Sustainable forest management - nature conservation elements in commercial forests
  • Option 15.5: Develop and promote agroforestry to help improve land use sustainability
  • Option 15.6: Protection of watercourses (wetlands & peatlands) in the mountains and preservation of ecologically valuable habitats
  • Option 15.7: Protection of species and habitats in urban areas
  • Option 15.8: Normative definition of a comprehensive national list of invasive alien species of importance for Austria in accordance with the given European framework to safeguard Austrian biodiversity
  • Option 15.9: Rethinking nature conservation
  • Option 15.10: Rethinking soil protection
  • Option 15.11: Evaluation of the public tax and subsidy system with regard to synergies and trade-offs with the objectives of the Austrian Biodiversity Strategy
  • Option 15.13: Strengthen biodiversity research
  • Option 15.14: Educational initiative on nature conservation and biodiversity: educational goal "Natural Natives".
  • Option 15.15: How we use the land: Establish binding regional planning at the federal state level to reduce land loss
  • Option 15.16: Restrict new building land dedications
  • Option 15.17: Mainstreaming biodiversity agendas in bioeconomy and climate change strategies, policies and research

UniNetz Network


  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU): Georg Gratzer, Sophia-Marie Horvath (Co-Lead)


  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU): Monika Kriechbaum, Thomas Lindenthal, Helga Pülzl, Stefanie Linser, Franz Fehr, Harald Vacik, Margit Seiberl, Andreas Melcher, Bernhard Splechtna, Harald Meimberg, Florian Borgwardt (BOKU/UBA)
  • Danube University Krems (DUK): Andrea Höltl, Tanja Lumetsberger, Christine Rottenbacher
  • Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU): Daniela Ecker, Erika Wagner
  • University of Innsbruck (UIBK): Stefan Mayr, Wolfgang Gurgiser, Michael Traugott, Leopold Füreder, Clemens Geitner, Johannes Rüdisser, Markus Aufleger
  • University of Veterninary Medicine Vienna (VETMed): Richard Zink, Natalie Eder

Further participants

  • Bundesforschungszentrum für Wald (BFW): Robert Jandl, Katharina Lapin
  • Umweltbundesamt (UBA): Josef Hackl
  • University of Vienna: Franz Essl


Essl, F., Moser, D., Mildren, A., Gattringer, I., Banko, G., Stejskal-Tiefenbach, M., 2018. Naturschutzfachlich wertvolle Lebensräume und Baulandwidmung in Österreich 46.

Eurostat, 2019. Land cover, 2015.png - Statistics Explained [WWW Document]. URL https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/ (accessed 7.18.19).

Independent Group of Scientists appoined by the Secretary-General, 2019. Global Sustainable Development Report 2019: The Future is Now – Science for Achieving Sustainable Development. United Nations, New York.

IPBES, 2019. Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science- Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondizio, J. Settele, S. Díaz, and H. T. Ngo (editors). IPBES Secretariat.

Umweltbundesamt, 2021. Flächeninanspruchnahme [WWW Document]. URL https://www.umweltbundesamt.at... (accessed 3.22.21).