SDGs: Indicator 15.3.1 | Land Portal

Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area


Last updated on 1 February 2022

This indicator is currently classified as Tier I. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the Custodian agency for this indicator. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are partner agencies.

Unit of measure: Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area (%)


Why is this indicator important?

Food production, extractive industries, or the expansion of infrastructure increase pressure on arable lands, pastures, forestry, and other essential areas. In turn, land degradation has negative effects on ecosystems, farm yields, and the quantity and quality of water resources. As a consequence, food insecurity may rise and facilitate migration and urbanization.

To assess the extent of land degradation is important for tracking progress towards voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets and for the development of plans of action to redress degradation, including through the conservation, sustainable management, rehabilitation and restoration of land resources.


How is the indicator measured and monitored?

According to the metadata document, the indicator uses a binary classification (degraded or not degraded) drawing on the three sub-indicators that assess trends in land cover, in land productivity, and in carbon stocks above and below ground. Any significant decrease or negative change in one of the three is considered to compromise land degradation. Land degradation is defined 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. (UNCCD 1994, Article 1). 

Since 2018, data is collected every four years through UNCCD’s national reporting and review process. Data sources include databases, maps, reports provided by ministries or agencies along with national statistical offices, as well as remote sensing, such Earth Observation data sources, that are disaggregated to national level. The Good Practices Guidance for SDG Indicator 15.3.1, version 2.0 provides a detail overview on monitoring and computation. The main limitations include the availability of historical time series and the, as of yet, often limited national capacities to process, interpret, and validate geospatial data.


By Anne Hennings, peer-reviewed by UNCCD.


Official indicator data

The proportion of land that is degraded draws on three sub-indicators: Land productivity, land cover, and soil organic carbon.


* Select "year" below to see the most recent data for more countries.

Loading map...

The data series presented here measures proportion of land that is degraded over total land area (%).

Measurement unit: 
Percentage (%)

Other related indicators on Land Portal

In addition to the official indicator data, the following indicators provide information concerning land under organic agriculture and the enforcement of land use restrictions in rural areas.


Land area (1'000 Ha) exclusively dedicated to organic agriculture and managed by applying organic agriculture methods. It refers to the land area fully converted to organic agriculture.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

'Agriculture'' area certified organic and/or in conversion to organic.

Previously known as "Agricultural area organic, total"

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Restrictions regarding rural land use are enforced measured on a scale from A - which stands for good practices - to D - reflecting weak practices.

Measurement unit: 
Index (A; D)

SDG Land Tracker

Goal 15: Life on land
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 details

Tier 1

The Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established and available methodology and standards, and that data is regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.

Custodian agency: 

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.



The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UNEP work encompasses:

  • Assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends

Share this page