SDG 15

SDG 152022-11-17T14:17:43-05:00
Life on Water

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems

The targets that this goal aims to hit include: conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems; sustainable management of all types of forests; combating desertification and restoring degraded land and soil; the conservation of mountain ecosystems; an end to poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna; preventing the introduction and significantly reducing the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems; integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning; and, the financing of sustainable forest management. See below for Penn State’s work on the targets and indicators for this goal.

Source: SciVal.com | This word cloud was created using publications from Penn State researchers

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Supporting Evidence

1) Does Penn State support and/or organise events aimed to promote conservation and sustainable utilisation of the land, including forests and wild land?2022-11-12T15:31:19-05:00

Penn State supports and organizes events which promote conservation and sustainable utilization of land, forests, and wild land. 

The EarthTalks series, supported by Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, offers free public talks featuring distinguished researchers and practitioners from Penn State, as well as from other universities, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, on a variety of conservation topics including wildfire management. 

The Department of Ecosystem Science and Management conducts outreach work to connect the resources of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management with community members, industry, and institutions in Pennsylvania and beyond by offering the latest research-based information and meaningful programming for adults and youth through Extension and 4-H programs. 

Penn State Extension offers community workshops, including a Community Forestry Institute workshop for members of municipal commissions, municipal staff, community advocates, and volunteers as well as Forest Management workshops. 

The Forestland Management Office manages more than 8,000 acres of forest owned by Penn State which are used for teaching, research, recreation, and as a renewable resource for timber and other forest products. 

Ag Progress Days features a wide variety of crop management, wildlife and conservation education, as well as tours that focus on wildlife habitat and stream buffers. 

Penn State DuBois students in Biology 220 are helped conservation professionals with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) combat the threat of hemlock woolly adelgid which threatens the state tree, the Eastern hemlock. 

The HUB-Robeson Galleries fall 2021 exhibition schedule included events and several exhibits that explore our relationships with wild birds. 

A visiting sculpture installation brought The Lost Bird Project sculptures to locations in Centre, Blair and Huntingdon counties, including at Shaver’s Creek, locations on the Penn State University Park and Altoona campuses, and the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in State College. It recognizes the tragedy of modern extinction by immortalizing five North American birds in sculpture. 

2) Does Penn State have policies to ensure that food on campus is sustainably farmed?2022-11-08T17:01:15-05:00

Penn State offers and encourages sustainably farmed food on campus in three main ways: 

  1. The Student Farm produce, the bulk of which is picked and packed by students, prioritizes sales straight to campus dining. Managing chefs in the five dining commons place weekly orders with the farm from the farm pick list.  
  1. The Food Services Sustainability webpage describes Penn State priorities as supporting local vendor purchasing and describes its partnership with the Student Farm as a main way to bring hyper-local produce to the dining commons. See the “Local Foods” section for descriptions of impacts related to local foods and sustainably farmed choices.  
  1. The Green Events guide offers guidance on sustainable event planning which includes a focus on seasonal and local food options. 
3) Does Penn State work directly to maintain and extend existing ecosystems and their biodiversity, of both plants and animals, especially ecosystems under threat?2022-11-08T17:03:46-05:00

Penn State owns and manages land where ecosystems and biodiversity are maintained and extended. These include: an Arboretum on the University Park campus; the Penn State Experimental Forest, 8,000 acres of forest that supports water resource and environmental investigations focused on sustainability of hardwood forests, water yield, and water quality; Shavers Creek Environmental Center which supports a field laboratory and active research projects related to the conservation of ecosystem biodiversity; Musser Gap, a 355 acre parcel which stewards, celebrates and protects regionally unique natural resources including the local water supply, plant and animal species;  and 62-acre Millbrook Marsh, a World Database on Protected Areas IUCN management category III Natural Monument or Feature which is owned by the university, managed by Clearwater Conservancy, and operated by Centre County Parks and Recreation. All of these projects work directly to maintain and extend existing ecosystems and their plant and animal biodiversity. 

The university also works to maintain and extend existing ecosystems and their biodiversity through research and teaching. For example: 

Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research prioritizes developing and implementing integrative, multidisciplinary approaches to improving pollinator health, conservation, and management for ecosystems services through research, education, outreach and policy. 

The Ecosystem Science and Management department engages in research, teaching, and service about maintaining and expanding ecosystems and ecosystem biodiversity. Undergraduate programs such as the Forest Ecosystem Management program combines in-depth, hands-on science education for all students to participate in meaningful research in Forest Health, Restoring Ecosystem Function and Service, Scaling Up Ecosystem Management, and Watershed Resilience. 

4) Does Penn State offer educational programs on ecosystems (looking at wild flora and fauna) for local or national communities?2022-11-12T15:49:46-05:00

Penn State offers numerous educational programs on ecosystems that look at wild flora and fauna for local and national communities. 

The Arboretum at Penn State offers guided tours (for community members and K-12 schools) that provide educational programs on local ecosystems/flora/fauna and events such as Bird Walks, Exploring Plants, and Arboretum Insects. The reach of educational programs is extended through videos and webinars provided online, such as a video about the Pollinator and Bird Garden, the Garden Wanderings video series, and webinars on topics such as Animal Signs and Tracking and Designing Your Own Pollinator Garden. 

Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center offers public programs and events for local and global stakeholders to look at wild flora and fauna in person and online. Summer Camps provide opportunities for youth to learn about flora and fauna. 

The Penn State Office of Science Outreach Science-U summer camps provide summer camp opportunities for students in grades 2-12 to learn about water, habitats, and the local ecology. 

Penn State Extension offers a variety of workshops and webinars for free and some for a fee if professional development or certification credits are associated. For example, wildlife topics include topics such as Forestry for Birds, Wildlife Food Plots, Native Plants of Pennsylvania, and Amphibians and Reptiles in Your Woods. Other topics that provide workshops and webinars on ecosystems for local and global communities include Forest Management and Urban Forestry. 

5) Does Penn State offer educational programs/outreach for local or national communities on sustainable management of land for agriculture and tourism?2022-11-08T17:05:44-05:00

The Student Farm offers free and paid programs on sustainable agriculture and nutrition. Some events are planned and hosted by Student farm staff and students. Other events are collaboratively hosted to support gardeners of all kinds and promote the community gardens located throughout the State College area.  Events include a Community Seed Swap,  growing seedlings on campus for Meals on Wheels participants to select and have delivered to their homes in five-gallon buckets. Outreach also includes free materials on sustainable agriculture on topics from small-scale cricket production to conservation biocontrol. 

The Extension Office offers free publicly available resources (programs, webinars, etc.) for sustainable land management and agriculture. Land management programs include webinars, workshops, online course, and videos. Webinars, videos, and most workshops are free. Online courses have an associated fee of $39-$135 USD. Tourism resources include articles, news, and webinars which are all available for free. 

6) Does Penn State have a policy to ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems associated with the university, in particular forests, mountains and drylands?2022-11-08T17:06:25-05:00

Penn State’s Guiding Principles document offers information on sustainable land management and conservation practices. These are described in the Campus Planning and Sustainable Campus sections of that document. This links directly to the Penn State LEED policy that details information on environmental conservation and site assessments including restoring natural habitats.  

Environmental resources are mapped in the Campus Master Plan. 

Penn State has partnered with the Clearwater Conservancy, a non-profit organization that aims to conserve and restore the natural resources in central Pennsylvania, to conserve a piece of property in Penn State’s boundary known as Musser Gap. 

7) Does Penn State have a policy to identify, monitor and protect any IUCN Red Listed species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by the operation of your university?2022-11-08T17:07:17-05:00

Penn State monitors and protects IUCN Red Listed species, in particular the American Chestnut 

Policy AD38 delegates responsibility for environmental regulatory compliance to the Office of Physical Plant which must align with Pennsylvania State’s Threatened and Endangered Species regulations.  

Penn State’s Arboretum is a partner institution for the American Chestnut Foundation.  

Penn State’s historic and ongoing work with conservation management of American Chestnuts is detailed in articles “Blight-resistant American chestnut trees nearing reality,” “American chestnut rescue will succeed, but slower than expected,” and most recently “Researchers identify new threat to American chestnut trees.” 

The Penn State STARS report on biodiversity lists the endangered species supported by the Millbrook Marsh habitat, a World Database on Protected Areas IUCN management category III Natural Monument or Feature, which is owned by Penn State. 

8) Does Penn State include local biodiversity into any planning and development process (e.g. construction of new buildings)?2022-11-08T17:08:08-05:00

Penn State includes local biodiversity into any planning and development process during, for example, the construction of new buildings. The LEED V4 policy is a guiding document for planning and development related to protecting and restoring natural habitat, as well as conducting environmental assessments. It requires preservation and protection from all development and construction activity in any Greenfield areas on the site and that native and adapted species only will be used. 

The Campus Master Plan map designates Environmental Resource areas/Environmentally Sensitive Areas/Protected Areas to recognize the importance of maintaining the quality of both potable and surface waters and the need to protect local ecological communities. Approximately 860 acres of land are in this land use category.  

Our STARS biodiversity report describes efforts in promoting and conserving biodiversity on university property. These include Millbrook Marsh is a 62-acre protected area owned by Penn State and operated by the Centre Region Recreation Authority, which the World Database on Protected Areas includes in IUCN management category III, Natural Monument or Feature and is in IUCN management category V, Protected Landscape/ Seascape for the marsh and the fen areas. 

Millbrook Marsh is a 62-acre protected area owned by Penn State and operated by the Centre Region Recreation Authority, which the World Database on Protected Areas includes in IUCN management category III, Natural Monument or Feature and is in IUCN management category V, Protected Landscape/ Seascape for the marsh and the fen areas. 

Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center and adjacent Stone Valley Recreation Area which preserve natural forested habitat.  

Musser Gap to Valleylands is a 355-acre parcel designed to provide ecosystem restoration. 

The Water Reclamation Facility renewal project included restoration of an area of forested riparian buffer along the Thompson Spring/Headwaters of Thompson Run. This project involved the suppression/elimination of invasive species from approximately 1.2 acres of land, leaving only native trees; installation of a deer fence; planting of several various size native species trees; and ground cover restoration. 

9) Does Penn State have a policy to reduce the impact of alien species on Campus?2022-11-08T17:08:44-05:00

Penn State has in place requirements and guidelines to reduce the impact of the spotted lanternfly, an alien species that has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops in Pennsylvania including grapes, hops, and hardwoods and reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas. These follow a state-mandated quarantine to reduce its spread. An overview of Penn State’s efforts to reduce the impact of this alien species can be found at Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Implementation 

10) Does Penn State collaborate with the local community, e.g. through partnerships, in efforts to maintain shared land ecosystems?2022-11-12T15:40:03-05:00

The university collaborates with the local community to maintain shared land ecosystems. 

These include the Sustainable Communities Collaborative projects celebrated each semester with an Expo; the collaborative management of Millbrook Marsh by Penn State, the Centre County Recreation and Parks, and Clearwater Conservancy; and the Musser Gap to Valleylands project which relies on collaborative work by the university, the Department of Transportation, regional parks, and state parks. 

The Rights-of-Way, or Transmission Line Ecology, project is done with Pennsylvania Game Commission and utility partners to demonstrate that plant communities can be selectively managed to support reliable electric service and a diverse plant community for wildlife habitat.

11) Does Penn State have water quality standards and guidelines for water discharges (to uphold water quality in order to protect ecosystems, wildlife, and human health and welfare, etc.)?2022-11-08T17:10:02-05:00

Water quality standards and guidelines for water discharges are outlined in policy SY40 Disposal of Pollutants in University Sanitary Systems. It provides guidance on the proper use of the University Sanitary System at all locations of The Pennsylvania State University.  

It is designed to protect the general public or wastewater personnel, the operation of the University Sanitary Sewer system, the environment, and the safe reuse and recycling of wastewater and sludge.    

The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) program is a partnership with the state government Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Penn State. It requires all entities which operate separate stormwater systems to implement stormwater management programs.  

The University developed a comprehensive Centre Region MS4 Partners Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP) that addresses the Chesapeake Bay and impaired waters for nutrient and/or sediment requirements in the Spring Creek and Spruce Creek watersheds jointly with the local MS4 partners. The Spring Creek MS4 Partners that developed the PRP consist of the University, the State College Borough, and College, Harris, Ferguson, and Patton Townships. The MS4 Partners also maintain a stormwater website. The University’s MS4 permit establishes effluent limitations to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable. 

12) Does Penn State have a policy on reducing plastic waste on campus?2022-11-08T17:10:47-05:00

The University Recycling Program policy was designed to ease the University’s reliance on landfilling University-generated solid waste, to comply with state guidelines, and with state and local laws and ordinances, and to develop and implement a policy that will promote waste reduction at the University to include recycling, reuse, composting, and green purchasing. 

Penn State’s recycling policy includes plastics and recycling sorting bins are provided throughout campuses.  

The Waste Stream Task Force Report provides a Sustainable Procurement Policy (beginning on p. 63) and recommendations for multiple priority areas (starting on page 10). 

13) Does Penn State have a policy, process or practice on waste disposal – covering hazardous materials?2022-11-12T15:51:56-05:00

The university as a body has policies, processes, and practices on waste disposal covering hazardous and infectious waste disposal. The Infectious Waste Disposal policy establishes safe handling and proper disposal of regulated medical waste 

These include cultures and stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals, pathological wastes such as tissues, organs, body parts and body fluids, human blood and body fluid waste, animal wastes, isolation wastes, and used sharps. 

The Hazardous Waste Disposal policy establishes policy and procedures for the handling, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. To reduce the volume, the policy dictates that generators of hazardous waste shall minimize the volume or toxicity of their waste through the use of substitutions which will eliminate or reduce the amount of hazardous ingredients, management practices to reduce unnecessary waste generation, and purchase only the quantity of material anticipated to be used and establishing usage parameters for each chemical. 

Penn State’s Environmental Health and Safety website provides information about Pollution Prevention Initiatives.



Targets & Indicators

Target 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
  • Indicator 15.1.1: Forest area as a proportion of total land area
  • Indicator 15.1.2: Proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type
Target 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
  • Indicator 15.2.1: Progress towards sustainable forest management
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 15.3.1: Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area  
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
  • Indicator 15.4.1: Coverage by protected areas of important sites for mountain biodiversity
  • Indicator 15.4.2: Mountain Green Cover Index
Target 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
  • Indicator 15.5.1: Red List Index
Target 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
  • Indicator 15.6.1: Number of countries that have adopted legislative, administrative and policy frameworks to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits
Target 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
  • Indicator 15.7.1: Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked  
Target 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
  • Indicator 15.8.1: Proportion of countries adopting relevant national legislation and adequately resourcing the prevention or control of invasive alien species 
Target 15.9: By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
  • Indicator 15.9.1: (a) Number of countries that have established national targets in accordance with or similar to Aichi Biodiversity Target 2 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 in their national biodiversity strategy and action plans and the progress reported towards these targets; and (b) integration of biodiversity into national accounting and reporting systems, defined as implementation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting
Target 15.a: Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Indicator 15.a.1: (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments
Target 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
  • Indicator 15.b.1: (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments
Target 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
  • Indicator 15.c.1: Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked
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