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Abstract

Why is it so important to restore degraded landscapes? It’s actually very simple.
We rely on healthy ecosystems to provide us with our food, water, clean air, climate stability, social and economic wealth; even our happiness and well-being. We only have to look at history to see the devastating consequences of not valuing or understanding ecosystems: whole civilizations have vanished after overexploiting their natural resources.
Fortunately however, there are also civilizations who have learned to develop a symbiotic relationship with nature – and thrived – by restoring instead of destroying. Rapid global population growth in the last two centuries has caused the depletion of one quarter of the land surface on Earth as its natural resources have been used to support the unprecedented demand for sustaining human life and advances in technology. However, the scale and speed at which change has been inflicted on the environment since the 1950s is the most profound in the history of humankind; a phenomenon leading scientists call the Great Acceleration.
Many of the services nature provides humankind – so-called ecosystem services – are free of charge and therefore form no part of our current economy that is based on manufactured capital. This comes at the price of: the massive loss of biodiversity, soil erosion and degraded landscapes. As shown historically, human life depends on ecosystems services. As business and ecosystems are inextricably linked, landscape conservation and restoration should be key to our economy. Yet interventions to date focus only on impact reduction. It’s time for a new approach.