Change language

The world is entering an era of ecological restoration with governments across the globe making impressive commitments to restore degraded lands and landscapes through a wide range of restorative activities including ecological restoration at both the ecosystem and landscape scale. Ecological restoration is increasingly recognized as a critical tool for mitigating and adapting to the effects of environmental disasters and the impacts of climate change. It supports a process that improves human wellbeing at the individual, community, and national levels.

When implemented effectively, ecological restoration can achieve profound ecosystem services benefits, ranging from the most basic needs like improving food and water security, to reducing the spread of disease, and improving individual physical, emotional, and mental health. Ecological restoration must also be integrated with conservation and sustainable production, especially at the landscape level. Restoration can help us move, globally, from centuries of cumulative environmental damage, to land degradation neutrality, and eventually to net ecological improvement. Ecologicial restoration therefore promises net gain in the extent and functioning of native ecosystems, together with the delivery of critical human wellbeing benefits. Achieving this requires that restoration investment be based on a strong, defensible, and understandable scientific foundation as outlined within these restoration principles and standards.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) promotes land restoration and rehabilitation as part of the UNCCD strategic framework 2018-2030, and specifically to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN; Orr et al. 2017), wherein, “the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosys-tems” (UNCCD 2017). Current drylands and future drylands under climate change will be highly vulnerable, requiring a stronger collaboration across the three Rio Conventions (CBD, UNCCD, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]) on how to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation with the support of sustainable land management practices, while considering the special mandates of each Convention (Akhtar-Schuster et al. 2017; Chasek et al. 2019)

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES 2018) promotes “land restoration”, including activities such as restoring agricultural produc-tivity, adopting agricultural best practices, and other sustainable utilization activities. The IPBES (2019) Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ( reports that about 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Loss of biodiversity is shown to be not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, security, social, and moral issue. Restoration and land-based climate change mitigation actions are viewed as a key elements of the transformative change needed to avert mass extinctions and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services.

The largest and most diverse initiative for large-scale restoration is the Bonn Challenge, launched by the Government of Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and later endorsed and extended by the New York Declaration on Forests (Goal 5). This global effort seeks to bring 150 million ha of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million ha by 2030. The Bonn Challenge has galvanized high-level national and subnational commitments from 58 governments and land managers, totaling over 170 million hectares, to assess opportunities for, and implement restorative activities using the Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) approach ( p.74)

The supplement provides additional context to support SER's International Standards.