Top universities advancing land conservation in 2024

University Impact Rankings for UN SDG 15: Life On Land

Times Higher Education has assessed and ranked 741 universities from 92 countries/regions for their contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 15: life on land. The top institutions excel in combating biodiversity loss, promoting sustainable forest management and restoring degraded lands. Through impactful research, educational initiatives and hands-on conservation efforts, they work to preserve terrestrial ecosystems and enhance the sustainability of natural habitats.

These leading universities are dedicated to nurturing biodiversity and ensuring the health of terrestrial environments. By integrating sustainable practices into campus operations and academic programmes, they play a crucial role in fostering greater understanding and appreciation of our planet’s ecological diversity.

Summary of findings

The ranking for SDG 15: life on land is led by the University of Manchester in the UK, for the second year in a row.

The UK’s University of Leeds is the highest-ranked newcomer, in 11th place. The Institut Agro in France is another highly ranked first-time entrant, at 17th place, as is King’s College London in the UK at 18th.

The UK has the most institutions in the table (43), followed by Japan with 42 and Turkey with 41.


Our methodology for SDG 15: life on land includes detailed indicators that measure universities’ contributions to protecting and sustaining terrestrial ecosystems:

Research on land ecosystems (27%)

  • Number of studies focusing on sustainable management of forests, prevention of biodiversity loss, restoration of degraded lands and developing new techniques for conserving terrestrial ecosystems
  • Proportion of papers on land ecosystems in top journals
  • Field-weighted citation impact of research on land ecosystems

Supporting land ecosystems through education (23%)

  • Direct involvement in events promoting conservation and sustainable use of land
  • Policy to ensure that food on campus is sustainably farmed
  • Efforts to maintain and extend existing ecosystems and their biodiversity
  • Educational programmes that promote understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability

Supporting land ecosystems through action (27%)

  • Sustainable policies relating to land used by the university and threatened species affected by the university’s operations
  • Inclusion of local biodiversity in campus planning and development, such as construction of new buildings
  • Collaboration with local community to protect natural habitats and restore ecological balance

Land-sensitive waste disposal (23%)

  • Implementation of waste management practices that minimise impact on the land and prevent habitat disruption
  • Efforts to ensure that disposal techniques are environmentally responsible and support the overall health of the local ecosystem

The Impact Rankings are inherently dynamic: they are growing rapidly each year as many more universities seek to demonstrate their commitment to delivering the SDGs by joining our database; and they allow institutions to demonstrate rapid improvement year-on-year, by introducing clear new policies, for example, or by providing clearer and more open evidence of their progress. Therefore, we expect and welcome regular change in the ranked order of institutions (and we discourage year-on-year comparisons) as universities continue to drive this urgent agenda.

View the overall Impact Rankings 2024

Read our analysis of the Impact Rankings 2024 results

Download a free copy of the Impact Rankings 2024 digital report

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Explore Impact Rankings for individual SDGs