We are thrilled to announce that Gabrielle Taus will join Commonland as Managing Director on December 1st, 2023. Gabrielle will spearhead the team through a transformative chapter in the organisation’s evolution, shaping the future of Commonland. Willem Ferwerda, Commonland’s Founder and CEO, will step down from management but remain as Founder.

With Gabrielle joining Commonland, Willem Ferwerda, will step down as CEO and take on a new role as non-executive Founder, focusing on connecting and guiding landscape partners, funders, governments, and businesses in holistic landscape restoration and nature-based solutions. When Commonland was created almost 11 years ago, Willem first focused on establishing the organisation to create a proven track record of generating the 4 Returns in large-scale landscapes. Now that Commonland is an established organisation of almost 40 staff and several 4 Returns landscapes are up and running, the time has come for Willem to share his expertise with actors around the world. The loss of his son last year gives him even more strength to inspire and support the next generation to join the upcoming ‘landscape restoration industry’.

“After almost 11 years of building Commonland and showing that the 4 Returns framework is instrumental to transforming people and landscapes towards a more positive future, it is time to move on and dedicate my time to engaging funders, governments, and businesses. That’s why I have decided to hand over executive management to our new Managing Director Gabrielle Taus to lead Commonland into a new phase of impact. In my role as trusted Founder, I will continue to support her in the coming years with advice, networks, strategy, content, and participation in boards. Together, we will work to realise our shared mission: to restore landscapes and generate four returns for local communities (“inspirational”, social, natural, and financial returns). By including ecology in economics, we can ensure wellbeing for both people and planet”.

Willem Ferwerda, Founder and CEO of Commonland

As Commonland heads towards its next phase, Gabrielle Taus will lead the way, building on Commonland’s previous successes to scale up its impact. Alongside strong managerial skills, Gabrielle brings extensive experience in change management and organisational leadership to Commonland. She is also an experienced Theory U practitioner, a critical stakeholder process that is used with the 4 Returns framework. Together with the board, the management team and all colleagues, Gabrielle – backed by Willem – will guide Commonland into the future.

“I am immensely proud to be joining Commonland as the new Managing Director to contribute to its mission to restore landscapes to ensure ecosystems, economies and communities can thrive well into the future. With the support of Willem Ferwerda, the board, and funders, I am very much looking forward to leading the organisation as Commonland enters its next phase of professionalisation and impact.”

Gabrielle Taus, Managing Director of Commonland

Over the last decade, Commonland has supported local and international partners to restore landscapes and reverse degradation, so that people can live, work, and find inspiration in the places they call home. Ferwerda founded Commonland in 2013 to spread the use of the 4 Returns framework and restore landscapes globally with the support of entrepreneur Wijnand Pon (COmON Foundation). Since then, the team has expanded to 40 international colleagues based in Amsterdam and 5 local partner teams, who work together to restore large-scale landscapes in Spain, South Africa, Australia, The Netherlands, India and beyond. Over the years, other funders have come onboard, including the IKEA Foundation and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

Today, Commonland works in over 20 countries to facilitate landscape restoration and drive change across more than 12 million hectares of land in partnership with the 1000 Landscapes for One Billion People Coalition, Wetlands International, Presencing Institute, Ashoka, Landscape Finance Lab, and country offices of The Nature Conservancy, and WWF, among others. Commonland is also a member of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Together with partners, we’ve helped establish regenerative businesses and launched an education programme.

Since 2013, Commonland has been on a joint mission with its partners: to reverse degradation and restore 100 million hectares of land to ensure ecosystems, economies and communities can thrive well into the future. We will continue to pursue this mission as we move forward with Gabrielle and Willem jointly at the helm.

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