15.4.2 Mountain Green Cover Index
Target 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
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
Custodian Organization:Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Tier Classification: Tier I
To facilitate the implementation of the global indicator framework, all indicators are classified by the IAEG-SDGs (Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals Indicators) into three tiers on the basis of their level of methodological development and the availability of data at the global level, as follows:
Tier I: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.
Tier II: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.
Tier III: No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested.
Definition: The Green Cover Index is meant to measure the changes of the green vegetation in mountain areas – i.e. forest, shrubs, trees, pasture land, crop land, etc. – in order to monitor progress on the mountain target.
The index, will provide information on the changes in the vegetation cover and, as such, will provide an indication of the status of the conservation of mountain environments.
Rationale: The scientific mountain community recognizes that there is a direct correlation between the green coverage of mountain areas and their state of health, and as a consequence their capacity of fulfilling their ecosystem roles. Monitoring mountain vegetation changes over time provides an adequate measure of the status of conservation of mountain ecosystems. Monitoring the mountain “Green Cover Index” over time can provide information on the forest, woody and vegetal cover in general. For instance, its reduction will be generally linked to overgrazing, land clearing, urbanization, forest exploitation, timber extraction, fuelwood collection, fire. Its increase will be due to vegetation growth possibly linked to land restoration, reforestation or afforestation programmes.
Concepts: Mountains are defined according to the UNEP-WCMC classification that identifies them according to altitude, slope and local elevation range as described by Kapos et al. 2000:
Class 1: elevation > 4,500 meters
Class 2: elevation 3,500–4,500 meters
Class 3: elevation 2,500–3,500 meters
Class 4: elevation 1,500–2,500 meters and slope > 2
Class 5: elevation 1,000–1,500 meters and slope > 5 or local elevation range (LER 7 kilometer radius) > 300 meters
Class 6: elevation 300–1,000 meters and local elevation range (7 kilometer radius) > 300 meters
Comments and limitations: The indicator is based on Collect Earth, the most modern technology available. Its user friendliness and smooth learning curve make it a perfect tool for performing fast, accurate and cost-effective assessments. It is free, open source and highly customizable for the specific data collection needs and methodologies. It builds upon very high resolution multi-temporal images from Google Earth and Bing Maps and Landsat 7 and 8 datasets from Google Earth Engine. Data and images are stored and globally available for any year from 2000, making possible the monitoring of the change over time.
The indicator has a global accuracy of 99%, but at national level for small countries the degree of accuracy is lower. This will be improved over time as more countries expand the data collection within their territory.
Data on mountain coverage are provided by the 2015 FAO/MPS global map of mountains.
Data Source: Data for this indicator was primarily collected from the United Nations Statistics Division’s Open SDG Data Hub. National level data is provided to the United Nations Statistics Division by the respective nation, unless otherwise noted. To learn more about the data used in this portal, visit the about page.
Data is accurate as of January 17, 2020
15.4.2 Mountain Green Cover Index in the Sustainable Development Goals
Click on the SDG to reveal more information
15. Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
Forests cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface and in addition to providing food security and shelter, forests are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. Thirteen million hectares of forests are being lost every year while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares.
Deforestation and desertification – caused by human activities and climate change – pose major challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the fight against poverty. Efforts are being made to manage forests and combat desertification.
Related 15.4.2 Mountain Green Cover Index Targets
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