SDG Observatory

Goal 15: Life on Land

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


Life on Land Globally

The ultimate goal of SDG 15 is to protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. In achieving this goal, the United Nations has identified several separate issues, including combating desertification, land degradation, and biodiversity loss. Additionally, the sustainable management of forests has been identified for its importance in ecosystem preservation and services.

Currently, an estimated 1 million animal and plant species are facing extinction. Additionally, deforestation and desertification for further human development is threatening the land and air quality of many communities across the world. When human populations encroach on fragile ecosystems, we threaten both the wildlife living there and ourselves by introducing possible zoonotic diseases. Preserving Life on Land requires recognition of the services the natural environment provides us, and cooperation to maintain the current quality of our planet.


Life on Land Locally

Across Texas, ecosystems vary from dry deserts to swampy wetlands. Some native species include whooping cranes, monarch butterflies, and Texas horned lizards. These species will soon face treats of increased litter pollution and climate change.

In a highly urbanized area such as DFW [Dallas / Fort Worth] , it is even more essential that an effort is made to protect native plant and animal species. Organizations such as the DFW Wildlife Hotline and Dallas Zoo strive to protect reduce harm on local wildlife species. At UT Dallas, we make an active effort to do our part in preserving natural lands and promoting biodiversity.



Habitat Preservation

SDG 13: Climate Action
SDG 14: Life Below Water
Two students holding butterflies in their hands.

Photo Source: UTD Bee Campus USA

UT Dallas sits in Texas’ Blackland Prairie. The Blackland Prairie region is a strip of dark, rich soil encompassing much of Dallas and following the I-35 corridor. Facilities Management has established a No-Mow Zone to encourage native prairie grasses and give plants an opportunity to reestablish. Mowing less and planting native species are a key part of our prairie restoration program. An eight-acre area on the southwest corner of campus is the home of the restoration and our largest Monarch Waystation. Native pollinators, like Monarch butterflies, Bumblebees, Mason Bees, and Honeybees, are crucial to the proliferation of many flowering and fruit producing plants. Office of Sustainability employees also upkeep the area by planting milkweed, a plant native to the North Texas area, each year. In fall 2022, the Office experimented with four different kinds of cover crops to increase nitrogen in the soil and to reduce soil compaction, and incorporated the findings into the UTD Eco Hub.


Tree Campus Higher Ed

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 13: Climate Action
A group of students planting trees.

Photo Source: UTD Habitats

UT Dallas has received Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. The program helps colleges and universities establish and sustain healthy community forests. Tree-planting events also take place annually on campus with education provided to students regarding proper tree planting and tree care techniques.


Pollinator Habitats

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 13: Climate Action
Two people standing next to a bee hive painted with a night sky pattern.

Photo Source: UTD Bee Campus USA

The University of Texas at Dallas is home to a certified Monarch Waystation where students have the opportunity to explore and volunteer at the location while witnessing nature evolve.

UTD utilizes 2 apiaries on campus for classroom teaching, student, and faculty research, and for outreach programs. The profits from honey sales are used to support further sustainability initiatives on campus. Led by a Bee Campus USA Committee, students/staff/faculty intended to coordinate and lend aid to individual conservation efforts, to evaluate the current state of conservation on campus, and to oversee the progression and improvement of conservation efforts in the areas of habitat, service learning, and outreach by helping to create long term policy and structural changes in the University to support pollinator conservation.


Bio Blitz

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Two students wearing large butterfly wings.

Photo Source: UT Dallas Magazine

In Spring 2019, UT Dallas hosted its first BioBlitz at its 10-acre monarch waystation in order to assess biodiversity at the area and to help with the DFW [Dallas / Fort Worth] metroplex effort in the City Nature Challenge. Citizen scientists assisted with biodiversity assessment in this STARS report and contributed to the #8 global (#3 US) ranking in the City Nature Challenge which advances scientific research globally. At the event on April 26th, 348 observations of 113 species were logged in 2 hours. While no vulnerable or endangered species were identified at that time, ongoing observation will allow for the detection of any changes in the ecological balance of the area.

Campus Bio Blitzes are now an annual event hosted by the Office of Sustainability seeking to educate the UT Dallas community about plant and animal identification and to log the vast array of flora and fauna on campus. You can see a running list of the more than 660 species observed UT Dallas campus on iNaturalist.


Blanca Botello Garden

SDG 2: Zero Hunger
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
A photo collage showing different sides of a wooden structure in the garden that has been decorated with a mural.

Mural painted by UTD Students at the BB Garden

The Blanca Botello Garden was dedicated in 2016 to honor a former Office of Facilities Management staff worker. As of 2022, the garden is taken care of by Facilities Management staff. The vegetables that are grown in the garden are returned back to Facilities Management staff.


UREC Outdoors / Leave No Trace

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
A man sleeping in a hammock next to a tent.

Photo Source: UTD UREC

The goal of UREC Outdoors is to learn new skills and care for the earth by following the principles of Leave No Trace. University Recreation provides experiences on campus and throughout North Texas led by UREC staff members. This includes camping, kayaking, ziplining, and hiking excursions. UREC Outdoors allows students to enjoy their natural environment while preserving Life on Land.


UNIV 3310: Intersectional Environmentalism Through Habitat Restoration and Service Learning

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

First offered in fall of 2021 and returning in spring 2024, a new class will be offered for UT Dallas students. This class will be held in partnership with the Trinity River Audubon Center. Students will learn habitat restoration from TRAC [Trinity River Audubon Center] experts while providing stewardship of an acre of the facility. Lectures, guest lectures, and reflections will highlight the intersectionality of environmentalism, social justice, and economics. Reflections and discussions will also allow for a personal exploration of interests related to sustainability and environmentalism.

Pocket Prairie

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 13: Climate Action
A small yellow spider works its way up a plant stalk between needle-like leaves and red flowers.

A spider climbs up the stalk of a Texas Plume

In 2022, a pocket prairie was established in the Facilities Management complex adjacent to Lot S. This pocket prairie, modeled after the Blackland Prairie on which UT Dallas sits, serves as an educational tool for students to learn to identify native plants and to provide ecosystem services in the form of erosion prevention, water filtration, and aesthetic value. You can view a list of plants found in the pocket prairie on iNaturalist.


Goals / Future Work

  • Advertise fruit picking from fruit trees near residence halls for UTD students
  • Continue expanding Bee Campus and Tree Campus programming


Learn More

  • Take the online courses regarding Life on Land from SDG Academy
  • Learn more about the targets and indicators at the UN Global Goals website