Over 3 billion people around the world grapple with the consequences of land degradation. Damaged forests, farms, grasslands and mangroves lead to less water and food, declining rural incomes and creeping deserts.

In 2019, the world lost 11.9 million hectares of tree cover in the tropics, the rough equivalent of 4 billion trees — an area the size of Honduras or the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. This situation is growing ever more dire, as 100 million people risk falling in to extreme poverty in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

In response, more than 70 governments have committed to restore over 210 million hectares—or roughly the size of Mexico—of those degraded landscapes through the global Bonn Challenge. By growing trees, revitalizing grasslands and building healthy farms, they are fighting the twin challenges of rural poverty and climate change.

Private investors are on board, too: Nearly $3 billion is earmarked for country-led regional initiatives like AFR100 in Africa and Initiative 20x20 in Latin America. And in 2020, major corporations stepped up their ambition by pledging to protect and grow 1 trillion trees.

The commitments are there for this key nature-based solution, but evidence suggests that the world is not on track to reach these ambitious goals before the end of 2030, the final year of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the New York Declaration on Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

WRI’s Strategy for Restoring Landscapes

We need action to restore more land, better and faster. Local communities, entrepreneurs, and young people need to be firmly in the lead. Our Global Restoration Initiative is a team of nearly 50 experts in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Washington, DC working to accelerate this locally led, globally important movement to restore land in three key ways:

1. Monitoring Restoration

Our team is pioneering new approaches to set baselines and track restoration progress at the global level, across entire landscapes and countries, within specific projects and both inside and outside the forest.

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2. Financing Restoration Implementation

Every $1 invested in restoration creates up to $30 in economic benefits. Restoration can bring $1,140 per hectare in extra revenue for local landholders in Latin America. WRI research has helped put restoration on the global agenda as a cost-effective nature-based solution to climate change and rural poverty.

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3. Connecting People Restoring Land 

We are connecting government leaders from 50 countries, impact investors, and technical experts through regional meetings, online webinars and trainings, and peer exchanges. 

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