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Healthy landscapes

Healthy landscapes and water systems are the basis of our life. They provide food, water, clean air, a stable climate, biodiversity, good health, security and happiness. However, one fourth of the world’s land mass is seriously degraded from centuries of human activity. Think: deforestation, overgrazing, overharvesting, the building of infrastructure and pollution. In economic terms, this incurs an estimated loss of more than $4.3 trillion USD per year.

The good news

The good news is that landscape degradation can be reversed by actively restoring landscapes. Several initiatives around the world have already demonstrated that landscape restoration improves livelihoods, creates jobs, increases biodiversity, and fosters sustainable economies.

What we believe in

We believe that landscape restoration represents large untapped opportunities for sustainable economic development: the basis of a restoration industry. Yet although many funded projects already exist, they lack the necessary scaling-up because investors, companies and entrepreneurs aren’t involved. We would like to build that bridge.

About us

Our mission is to create an investable large-scale landscape restoration industry – aligned with international guidelines and policies – in close cooperation with experts and existing initiatives. Our approach is based on a sustainable business model, delivering 4 returns.

How do we create an investable large-scale landscape restoration industry?

  • In cooperation with our partners, we actively involve investors, companies and entrepreneurs in landscape restoration.
  • We increase the understanding that maximization of financial return per hectare leads to short-term profit and long-term loss.
  • We demonstrate that restoring degraded landscapes can be done – and makes business sense, using the 3 zone landscaping principle: natural zone, eco-agro mix zone and economic zone.
  • We select and design landscape restoration projects based on sustainable business cases for all stakeholders involved. In this way, funders can become investors and initiatives can develop into healthy restoration industries – with 4 returns.

We are not in competition with the many organizations currently working on landscape restoration worldwide. Our desire is to collaborate with existing initiatives, to scale them up, and co-create new ones.

BonnCommonland contributes to the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested lands by 2020.


These organizations are our founding fathers:

IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management

The Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) is one of the six scientific commissions of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The IUCN CEM is a network of volunteer experts, numbering 1,000, from around the world working on ecosystem management-related issues, for example climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, Red List of Ecosystems, fisheries and ecosystem restoration and services.

The Commission works closely with other IUCN commissions, such as the Species Survival Commission and the World Commission on Protected Areas, as well as IUCN regional offices and global thematic programs. The IUCN Global Ecosystem Management Programme (EMP) is the focal program for CEM, which provides secretariat and technical support. Commonland staff are taking part in CEM’s thematic working groups on ecosystem restoration and business involvement. The international secretariat is based in Gland, Switzerland.

IUCN CEM is one of the founding fathers of Commonland. The Commission offers Commonland guidance and advice and gives access to IUCN’s worldwide database on ecosystems and network experts.

Contact person: Piet Wit, Chair (via Patricia Hawes, pat.hawes@iucn.org). Website: www.iucn.org.

Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University

Over the past 40 years, Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University (RSM) has firmly established its reputation as one of Europe’s leading business schools.

RSM offers a distinctive intellectual culture. They believe that leadership can be taught through a combination of intellectual and practical challenges, and that the difficulties one encounters when working in diverse teams foster creative new approaches in business. They enjoy a reciprocal, supportive relationship with multinational companies and encourage a flexible, broad and sometimes iconoclastic mindset in matters of business practice and research.

This distinct approach has helped RSM to establish a portfolio of top-ranked programs, as well as one of the world’s largest and most prolific management faculties.

Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University is one of the founding fathers of Commonland, because they understand the importance of ecosystems in future business propositions.

Together with RSM and Wageningen University & Research Centre, Commonland aims to set up a center of expertise dedicated to ecosystem restoration, located in the business school. RSM advises Commonland on business cases and makes available its international network of top-notch business schools.

Contact person: Eva Rood, Co-director, Centre for Eco-transformation (erood@rsm.nl). Website: www.rsm.nl.

COmON Foundation

The COmON Foundation is a private initiative, established with the purpose of delivering a concrete contribution to the process of nurturing nature, education and employment. The COmON Foundation supports the development of populations in poor countries by establishing – in regions where such potential is inherently present, step-by-step – the basic conditions for the development of a healthy natural environment, education and a basic infrastructure in order to enable the next steps in development, such as the productivity of farming and cattle raising, forestry and vegetable growing and trade in agrarian products.

The COmON Foundation works exclusively in the form of projects with a clear objective, measurable results and completion within a predefined time-span. This is usually a period of approximately 5 years.

The vision and ambitions of the COmON Foundation are deeply rooted in Commonland. As one of the founding fathers of Commonland, they support the Commonland mission with financial support and access to their private investors network.

Contact person: John Loudon, CEO COmON Foundation and executive board member Commonland (john.loudon@comonstichting.org). Website: www.comonfoundation.org.

These organizations are our mission partners:

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

Through its members, the Council applies its respected thought leadership and effective advocacy to generate constructive solutions and take shared action to drive business action on sustainability in the coming decade and beyond.

The WBCSD aims to be the leading voice of business that will support companies in scaling up true value-added business solutions and in creating the conditions where more sustainable companies will succeed and be recognized. Action2020 is the WBCSD’s platform for sustainability in action. It’s the roadmap for how businesses can positively influence environmental and social trends while strengthening their own resilience to issues like climate change, demographic dynamics and skills shortages. Based on the latest scientific consensus, Action2020 sets an agenda for businesses to take action on sustainable development to 2020 and beyond.

The WBCSD is a mission partner of Commonland, as both share the vision that companies and investors should be actively involved in ecosystem restoration and management. The work of Commonland contributes to WBCSD’s Ecosystems & Landscape Management Cluster.

Contact person: Violaine Berger, Director Ecosystems & Agriculture (Berger@wbcsd.org). Website: www.wbcsd.org.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.

The Convention’s 195 parties work together to improve the living conditions of people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation. The UNCCD secretariat facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around knowledge and technology transfer for sustainable land management.

The mission of the UNCCD on restoration and soil rehabilitation and poverty alleviation is aligned with the Bonn Challenge and with Commonland’s mission.

Website: www.unccd.int.

United Nations Environmental Programme

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.

UNEP work encompasses assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends, developing international and national environmental instruments, and strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment.

The mission of the United Nations Environment Programme on ecosystem restoration is aligned with the Bonn Challenge and with Commonland’s mission.

Website: www.unep.org.

Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration

The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration was launched in 2003 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Forestry Commission of Great Britain. Since then, more than 25 governments and international and non-governmental organizations have joined. It is a proactive network that unites governments, organizations, communities and individuals with a common goal: restoring the world’s degraded and deforested lands.

The Partnership was initiated with the purpose of catalyzing and reinforcing a network of diverse examples of restoration of forests and degraded lands that deliver benefits to local communities and to nature, and fulfill international commitments on forests.

Commonland is a member of the Partnership with the objective to share information amongst the partnership members and to contribute to the goal of the Bonn Challenge with the 4 returns methodology and concrete projects in the field.

Contact person: Carole Saint Laurent, Coordinator (carole.saint-laurent@iucn.org). Website: www.forestlandscaperestoration.org.

The Economics of Land Degradation

The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is a global initiative on the economic benefits of land and land-based ecosystems. It aims to increase political and public awareness of the economic costs and benefits of healthy and productive land. The secretariat of the initiative is hosted by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The initiative highlights the value of sustainable land management and provides a global approach for analysis of the economics of land degradation. It aims to make the economics of land degradation an integral part of policy strategies and decision-making by increasing political and public awareness of the costs and benefits of land and land-based ecosystems.

The ELD vision is to transform global understanding of the economic value of productive land based on both market and non-market values, and to improve stakeholder awareness for socio-economic arguments to improve sustainable land management, prevent the loss of natural capital, preserve ecosystem services, combat climate change, and address food, energy, and water security. The ELD methodological approach will translate economic, social and ecological knowledge into topical information and tools to support improved policy-making and practices in land management suitable for policy makers, scientific communities, local administrators and practitioners, and the private sector.

As mission partner, ELD provides Commonland access to its methodology and network of experts on the economics of land degradation.

Contact person: Mark Schauer, Coordinator (mark.schauer@giz.de). Website: www.eld-initiative.org.

Wageningen University

To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life is the mission of Wageningen UR (University & Research Centre). A staff of 6,500 and 10,000 students from over 100 countries work everywhere around the world in the domain of healthy food and living environment for governments and the business community at large.

The strength of Wageningen UR lies in its ability to combine the strengths of specialized research institutes and Wageningen University. It also lies in the combined efforts of the various fields of natural and social sciences. This union of expertise leads to scientific breakthroughs that can quickly be put into practice and be incorporated into education. This is the Wageningen Approach.

As a mission partner, several Wageningen UR institutes and experts are involved in ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation. Commonland works with the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) on training courses and education of stakeholders in the field. They are also involved in the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration. Wageningen UR is also partnering the creation of a business school institute.

Contact person: Cora van Oosten, Senior Advisor Natural Resources Management (cora.vanoosten@wur.nl). Website: www.wageningenur.nl/en.

IUCN Erasmus Comon

4 returns

4 returns

We design landscape restoration projects based on sustainable business cases delivering 4 returns. To maximize the 4 returns, we apply the 3 zones landscaping principle to every landscape restoration plan, for a period of 20 years.

Return of Inspiration

Giving people hope, a positive future outlook and meaningfulness.

Return of
Social Capital

Bringing back jobs and business activity, education, social services and security.

Return of
Natural Capital

Restoring biodiversity, topsoil and hydrology, clearing invasive species, decreasing erosion and increasing carbon absorption.

Return of
Financial Capital

Realizing long-term, sustainable profit with a balanced risk / return profile.

3 zones

3 zones

We design landscape restoration projects based on sustainable business cases delivering 4 returns. To maximize the 4 returns, we apply the 3 zones landscaping principle to every landscape restoration plan, for a period of 20 years.

Natural Zone


  • Restoring vegetation
  • Planting native trees
  • Natural restoration
  • Extensive maintenance


  • CO2 capture + water
  • Restored biodiversity
  • Forestry, hunting
  • Tourism

Eco-Agro Mix Zone


  • Rehabilitation landscape
  • Planting usable trees
  • Perennial vegetation, soil
  • Extensive maintenance


  • CO2 capture + water
  • Partially restored biodiversity
  • Agroforestry, fruit trees, timber
  • Tourism

Economic Zone


  • Planting trees
  • Growing crops
  • Intensive maintenance


  • CO2 capture + water
  • Sustainable agriculture, harvesting crops, forestry
  • Real estate, tourism, local business activity


Team members

Board members

Advisory council

Associated experts


Founded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on Ecosystem Management, Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University and the COmON Foundation, we work in close cooperation with internationally leading organizations including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, The Economics of Land Degradation, and Wageningen University, amongst others.

initial supporters

NGOS, Universities & Governments

Private Sector


In our library you will find a selection of publications and videos that we recommend. They give an introduction to landscape restoration: the why, how and what. In addition, we also provide an overview of expert libraries within our network that have compiled a large collection of articles, country reports, maps, books, guidelines and videos related to landscape restoration.



Expert Libraries


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“Most of the top management journals remain focused on the firm, not the system. It’s essential for managers and academics to take a more systemic approach to landscape restoration, in tandem with the natural sciences and local people.”

Pauline van der Meer Mohr
President Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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“All people should benefit from restoration of the land, not just the land owners. Everyone.”

Piet Kruger
South African farmer

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“Water is a key resource for Port Elizabeth; essential for its people and industrial production. We believe that restoring the degraded landscapes upstream can help us secure that resource.”

Patrick King
Regional General Manager Sanlam, South Africa

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“It’s possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems. So if we can rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems – why don’t we do that?”

John D. Liu
Filmmaker and Ecologist

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“By locating forests, pastures and water bodies within the larger ecological, social and economic context, landscapes open up to meet a range of objectives that could address demands of preservation, conservation and exploitation.”

Jagdeesh Rao
CEO Foundation for Ecological Security, India

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“The 21st century will demand more than conservation, it will require us to invest in ecological restoration. Restoring our degraded landscapes and seascapes will foster long term resiliency, promote economic vitality and cultivate a shared vision for our future.”

Keith Bowers
IUCN CEM Ecological Restoration Group Lead, Biohabitats

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“Degraded landscapes are underperforming common assets linked to many development priorities. And landscape restoration successes have often debunked two prevailing myths: that is takes too long and costs too much. Let’s now overcome the hurdles to scaling up and out.”

Luc Gnacadja
Architect, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

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“If we cannot conceive our natural and agricultural environments as a single unit, as a close symbiotic network where all the pieces fit perfectly together, we must be doing something fundamentally flawed. Each of us should undergo a deep reflection to understand that the only being that is expendable in our planet is the human being.”

Carmen Román Reche
Managing Director of Crisara (Organic Almonds) and Spanish National Award on “Innovation Excellence in Rural Women”, Spain

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“We require the specialized labor of men and women that work in the fields, because it is them who provide us with our food staples. We must recognize and honor the work of rural people. The quality of our future depends on their good work and on our collective ability to maintain a proper balance with the surrounding natural ecosystems.”

Paco Casero
Agricultor, Spain (retired president of Asociación Ecovalia for organic growers)





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