World Resource Institute

Financing Forest and Landscape Restoration

The Economic Opportunity

Sometimes, money does grow on trees. WRI research shows a massive economic opportunity for restoring landscapes.

  • At the global level, every $1 invested in restoring landscapes can create between $7 and $30 in economic benefits for local people.
  • Across the regional level in Latin America and Caribbean, each hectare of land restored can add $1,140 in extra value to landholders.
  • At the national scale in Ethiopia, sustainably managing and restoring forests is a nearly $2 billion opportunity.
  • In India’s Sidhi landscape, restoring more than 300,000 hectares of land could create 3,000 small businesses and 30,000 jobs within 7 years.

That opportunity is why private investors have pledged $2.9 billion to fund forest and landscape restoration in Africa through AFR100 and in Latin America through Initiative 20x20.

But most of that funding is still in funders’ bank accounts because investment climate for restoration is not yet developed. To get financing moving to the local entrepreneurs that run and support restoration projects and grow trees, we need a five-prong approach to:

  • Strengthen markets and craft public incentives
  • Train leaders to plan projects well
  • Invest in assisted natural regeneration and native trees
  • Bundle projects together into investable portfolios
  • Invest in tracking project progress

Private Investment for Restoring Forests and Landscapes

To break through those barriers, WRI and partners developed a suite of programs with one common goal: Directly finance people restoring land.

The Land Accelerator trains and supports entrepreneurs whose companies restore degraded land. This valuable network of business and investment opportunities can also help accelerate restoration across Africa, Latin America and South Asia. Alumni of the program—which has received 1,600 applicants to date—report that they have raised $500,000, created 2,500 jobs, worked with 120,000 farmers, restored 92,500 hectares and grew 2.7 million trees.

A new funding instrument, the Rural Prosperity Bond, could connect these leading small companies with loans worth a total of $70 million to scale up their work. In Latin America, Initiative 20x20’s partners financed 195 projects across Latin America, where WRI convened investor roundtables.

WRI is also helping leaders of NGOs and restoration businesses connect with corporate funding recently made available through the Trillion Trees platform and the Priceless Planet Coalition. Our TerraMatch platform’s unique algorithm pairs funders’ preferences, from geography to type of land and beyond, with vetted, locally-run projects that growing trees the right way. So far, WRI have moved $4 million to growing project developers in Africa and Latin America. The platform’s built-in monitoring feature shows where trees are growing within project boundaries – and where investors are getting a return on their investment.

Public Finance for Restoring Forests and Landscapes

Governments have committed to restore 210 million hectares of farms, forests, and pasture through the global Bonn Challenge and regional initiatives AFR100 in Africa and Initiative 20x20 in Latin America. To reach those ambitious goals, national and local governments are designing policies and plans that help people to restore land and keep it healthy.

WRI has designed the Restoration Policy Accelerator, a collaborative network that helps government leaders improve their existing financial incentives, design new programs, and communicate about their success. How does it work? The program walks governments leaders through a seven-step process of effective policy change. By building south-south networks of mutual support and promoting smart policies, we hope to help governments restore more land.