Forests for the future - moving from paper commitments to real restoration impact at landscape scale

As the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration gets underway a new report, which is the culmination of work under the most recent Prince Bernhard Chair, Utrecht University Professor Jaboury Ghazoul (2015-2020), outlines the lessons learned from 21 case studies that will be essential to the success of large-scale Forest and Landscape Restoration projects to meet global biodiversity targets by 2030.

The booklet ‘Forests for the Future – Restoration Success at Landscape Scale: What will it Take and What Have we Learned?’ is a contribution to the Bonn Challenge - a global target to bring 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2030. Since the Challenge was set in 2011, 74 governments, private associations and companies have pledged more than 210 million hectares.

The report showcases insights from researchers and practitioners at the coalface of forest and ecosystem restoration around the world on the greatest opportunities, as well as the most fundamental challenges, that need to be addressed in the coming years.

Restoration programmes can bring substantial and tangible outcomes and benefits to both people and nature within just a few years.

“We can’t theorise our way to solutions”

“As with most environmental initiatives, the reality of ensuring that commitments move from aspiration to implementation is perhaps the most difficult. We can’t theorise our way to solutions, but we can learn from projects that have already been implemented, which is why we asked 21 experts for their perspectives,” says Prof. Jaboury Ghazoul, from ETH Zurich, former Prince Bernhard Chair and lead editor of the report.

“It is through communicating what we have learned, and where we have failed or succeeded, that we will move towards the scale of the successful ecosystem restoration we need,” says Daniella Schweizer, the report’s co-editor. 

The natural world and its resources

COVID-19 has amplified the urgency with which we need to fundamentally change the way we relate to our natural world and its resources. We know that nearly half of all new emerging infectious diseases from animals are linked to land-use change. We also know that healthier ecosystems will help us to address this, secure human well-being, and respond to climate change, biodiversity loss, and continuing food security challenges. Restoration programmes can bring substantial and tangible outcomes and benefits to both people and nature within just a few years.

“We hope that this report can act as a starting point on how to turn theory into practice, moving from paper commitments to real, lasting impacts on biodiversity and people’s lives,” Ghazoul continues. “Success rests on restoring dialogue and social and institutional arrangements among communities, land managers, and policy makers – these are as much a part of forest restoration processes as is the planting of trees.”

Please note that we are currently searching for a new Prince Bernhard Chair holder. You can apply for the position until 18 June 2021 via the HR vacancy website.


Schweizer D. and Ghazoul J. (eds) (2021) Forests for the future: Restoration success at landscape scale - what will it take and what have we learned? Prince Bernhard Chair Reports (issue 1). Series editors Almond, R.E.A., Grooten, M. and Van Kuijk, M., WWF-Netherlands, Zeist and Utrecht University, Netherlands.

Download the report (opens PDF, 9.7 MB)
Learn more about the authors (opens PDF, 173 kB)