Landscape Restoration: From International Commitment to National Strategies
Thanks to early successes and growing political momentum, the ecological and economic benefits of landscape restoration have become impossible to ignore. Governments across the world have pledged to restore 148 million hectares (366 million acres) of degraded land—an area bigger than South Africa—by 2030, with further commitments to come.
Political will for landscape restoration has reached an all-time high: 40 countries have joined the Bonn Challenge—many through two WRI-supported platforms, AFR100 in Africa and Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and the Caribbean—making pledges to restore a total of 148 million hectares (366 million acres) by 2030. Twenty percent of these pledges were announced last year, reflecting growing awareness of the many benefits of intact natural landscapes and sustainably managed agricultural land.
In Brazil, the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment together pledged 22 million hectares (54 million acres), the largest restoration commitment on Earth. With support from WRI Brasil and other partners, the government established a practical restoration policy and plan. Indonesia expanded protections for the world’s largest tropical peatland—a vast, endangered carbon sink—supported by WRI Indonesia’s expertise.
Many countries are moving beyond political commitments to make plans for action. Rwanda became the first to use the Restoration Opportunity Assessment Methodology (ROAM) developed by WRI and IUCN to analyze costs and benefits, determine focus, and create strategic plans for finance and implementation. Using ROAM, Rwanda established two new national parks and earmarked climate change funds for restoration projects. India has started a ROAM analysis, with WRI’s assistance, and drafted its first national map of restoration opportunities. The map includes standard geographic data and information about where farmers hold secure land rights and where forests have spiritual significance. The two countries are among more than 20 now engaged in ROAM analysis.
We have learned that when it comes to restoration, mapping the social landscape is as important as mapping the biophysical landscape.
Director, Global Restoration Initiative
Money is being mobilized to back these plans. Impact investors have put more than $1.5 billion on the table for restoration in Latin America and Africa. WRI links these investors with projects and is working to increase funding through the New Restoration Economy, a partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Restoring biodiversity and productivity to degraded lands has the potential to generate billions of dollars that will mostly benefit poor people. WRI is now working to understand the social landscape in areas undergoing restoration, because better insight into the goals, values and actors in an area is critical to long-term success. In a changing climate, restoration provides natural resources and ecosystem services to a growing population.