How does Commonland take responsibility for its work and impact?
Commonland actively ensures transparency and public accountability in its campaigning, fundraising and financial management practices. We release a public report on our economic, environmental and social performance every year.
Learn more in our latest annual report.
How are Commonland and its landscape programmes funded?
We collaborate with philanthropists, investors, and public institutions who support our long-term, large-scale landscape restoration programmes. They contribute to different areas of our work. Our relationships with funders are always long-term and trust-based: in our experience, this is the only way to create meaningful change at scale.
Read our latest annual report to learn more about the funding we receive.
How was the 4 Returns framework developed?
The 4 Returns framework was developed by Commonland in close collaboration with leading knowledge institutes, business schools, farmers, and experts and has been successfully tried and tested since 2013 in landscapes in Spain, South Africa, Australia, and The Netherlands.
People worldwide, including members of the 4 Returns community and learning network, now use it as an essential tool to help restore and protect our home planet and keep it healthy for generations to come.
Read more about 4 Returns.
What is the 4 Returns framework?
The 4 Returns framework is a practical, holistic approach to landscape restoration that delivers returns to all landscape stakeholders – people, nature, communities and businesses. It enables them to collectively create and act upon a long-term vision for their landscape.
Restoring our planet’s landscapes is achievable – but only if we work together. From farmers to business owners, policymakers to NGOs, we collaborate with a diverse range of stakeholders to create lasting change. A roadmap for successful collaboration, the 4 Returns framework unites all landscape stakeholders around one shared goal: restoring their landscape while creating a sustainable income for local communities.
In short: Learn more about 4 Returns.
What is Commonland’s mission?
To restore the planet’s degraded land and secure a brighter future for everyone, we must take action now. That’s why we’re on a mission to make holistic landscape restoration the new norm and restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2040 with our partners.
Read more about Commonland’s mission.
How did Commonland start?
Our vision – to create a scalable, practical framework that brings stakeholders together to restore large degraded landscapes and secure a brighter future for humanity – holds true today just as it did back in 2013. That was when former IUCN Netherlands director and ecologist Willem Ferwerda founded Commonland, supported by entrepreneur Wijnand Pon and experts from the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management. Also backing the organisation were the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University) and McKinsey, HIVOS, DOEN Foundation and the Dutch government.
Learn more about Commonland’s history.
Does Commonland address the Sustainable Development Goals?
We most certainly do! The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) acknowledge that ending poverty and providing a better life for all go hand in hand with protecting our ecosystems.
9 SDGs align directly with our 4 Returns framework. Building partnerships (SDG 17) is critical to successful holistic landscape restoration: we help build local and global alliances of philanthropic funders, impact investors, policymakers, farmers, business and community leaders, indigenous people, and conservationists.
In addition to the SDGs, Commonland has been a proud partner of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration since its launch in 2021. The Decade aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and ocean, help end poverty, combat climate change, and avert mass extinction.
Does Commonland also plant trees?
While planting trees can, for instance, be part of restoring biodiversity in our landscapes, we believe that large-scale, long-term landscape restoration (that includes but goes far beyond tree-planting) is essential for collectively tackling the negative impacts of climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, and food insecurity.
Healthy landscapes provide a foundation for regenerative business models, creating healthy products and a sustainable income for local communities. Regenerative practices at the farm scale become future-proof regenerative economies at the landscape level.
Read more about our holistic approach to landscape restoration.
What kind of regenerative practices do Commonland and its partners use?
Our partners use regenerative practices in their landscapes across the three zones identified in the 4 Returns Framework: the natural zone, the combined zone, and the economic zone.
For example, in the combined zone, many of our partners use regenerative agricultural practices to help transform damaged landscapes into thriving ecosystems. Commonland promotes regenerative agriculture, which recognises that working with nature, rather than against it, positively impacts a landscape’s health.
By adopting practices that promote soil health, biodiversity and ecosystem balance, regenerative agriculture seeks to create a harmonious relationship between agriculture and nature, leading to healthier soils, stable yields, and a more resilient landscape.
There are countless regenerative agriculture practices, and selecting the best ones will depend on the landscape’s unique features and needs – there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. No-till farming, regenerative grazing, and agroforestry are some of the common practices in our landscapes.
Read more about regenerative agriculture here.
What have Commonland and its partners achieved thus far?
Our practical approach – the 4 Returns framework – is being used by people all over the world to restore their local landscape and keep it healthy for generations to come. In 2021, we achieved the following results:
- Return of Inspiration: we introduced the opportunities brought by landscape restoration to 5.7 million people through (online) media, local pilots, research projects, workshops, webinars, and festivals.
- Social Return: the regenerative businesses in our landscapes created 394 jobs.
- Natural Return: more than 30,400 hectares of degraded land are currently undergoing regeneration and restoration; a further 12 million in the territories where we work have the potential to be regenerated over the coming years.
- Financial Return: our partners have identified or set up 36 business cases rooted in the 4 Returns framework.
Want to dig deeper? Read our latest annual report.
How do you involve local communities in your landscape programmes?
Our goal is to ensure landscapes are restored by and for local communities. Involving everyone in landscape restoration is the only way to achieve lasting change. We help build bridges between all landscape stakeholders – from business and community leaders to farmers, indigenous people, conservationists, and policymakers – to benefit communities, nature, people, and business alike.
Theory U, a Presencing Institute awareness-based method for system change, is one of our essential tools we use to bring stakeholders together and co-create long-lasting landscape restoration partnerships.
How do you select your landscape programmes?
In some landscapes, we co-initiate and co-develop projects with our partners. In others, we connect and enhance the current work of local landscape-based initiatives and stimulate new partnerships. We work directly with landscape partners or support landscapes through regional, national and global partnerships.
As part of our mission to make holistic landscape restoration the new norm, we continually explore new opportunities for landscape partnerships to expand our reach and build up a global portfolio.
Find out how to partner with us.
Where are Commonland and its partners active?
We support partners in over 20 countries to restore landscapes and regenerate the Earth. Together with our partners, we have gained substantial on-the-ground experience in South Africa, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, and India. We are also building partnerships in other countries and regions, including Ireland, Namibia, and the Asia Pacific region, where we are less involved in implementation but instead use our experience and expertise to help accelerate existing local restoration initiatives.
Explore our landscapes.
What is Commonland’s role in landscapes?
Commonland works on large-scale, long-term landscape restoration with a holistic approach. We facilitate landscape restoration from the ground up. From farmers to business owners, policymakers to NGOs, we collaborate with a diverse range of partners to restore landscapes across the world. To make the greatest impact, we are also building a global movement to accelerate holistic landscape restoration via our 4 Returns framework.
In some landscapes, we co-initiate and co-develop projects with our partners. In others, we connect and enhance the current work of local landscape-based initiatives and stimulate new partnerships. We work directly with landscape partners or support landscapes through regional, national and global partnerships. Overall, we support our local partners with the tools, funding, knowledge, and networks to restore their landscapes for future generations.
Learn more about what we do.
What are Commonland’s offerings?
We facilitate landscape restoration from the ground up. From farmers to business owners, policymakers to NGOs, we collaborate with a diverse range of partners to restore landscapes across the world. To make the greatest impact, we are also building a global movement to accelerate holistic landscape restoration via our 4 Returns framework.
We currently have four focus areas:
- Restoring landscapes: We provide landscape practitioners with the tools, funding, knowledge, and networks to restore their landscape for future generations.
- Financing restoration: We offer our local partners access to funding opportunities. We help them to create and roll out regenerative business models and carbon methodologies.
- Global learning network: We connect people working in landscape restoration worldwide through the 4 Returns learning network – so that knowledge can be exchanged across landscapes.
- Policy and campaigns: We influence policymaking and raise public awareness of the need to scale landscape restoration through advocacy and campaigning.
Learn more about our offerings.
How do Commonland’s carbon initiatives combat climate change?
By drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in soils and vegetation, large-scale landscape restoration can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping us to meet global temperature targets and secure our future on planet Earth.
With the right safeguards, carbon finance – which involves the buying and selling of carbon credits – can help facilitate the transition to more resilient and healthier landscapes by funding landscape restoration – and other nature-based – initiatives that sequester carbon.
Through generating carbon credits for greenhouse gas emissions that have been reduced or sequestered (drawn down and stored), individuals and organisations can offset a portion of their carbon footprint to achieve their sustainability objectives. At the same time, revenue from carbon credits can be directed towards landscape restoration initiatives that improve the livelihoods of communities.
Read more about our cookstoves project in Zambia and explore all of Commonland’s carbon initiatives.
Can I join the Commonland team?
Commonland’s international team of farmers, scientists, finance specialists, storytellers, conservationists, facilitators, policy experts, and ambassadors works closely with a growing group of partners to restore landscapes worldwide.
Head to our careers page for all available positions, including internships and open applications.
Can I work with Commonland on my landscape restoration initiative?
Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm. Let’s find out if there’s a match!
To leverage a landscape’s unique ecology, we take a place-based approach, supporting local partners working on large-scale landscape initiatives of at least 100,000 hectares. Also, collaboration is at the core of everything we do. We centre our partnerships on a holistic, long-term strategy; regenerative business potential; and bottom-up local leadership.
Are you a practitioner or organisation rooted in a local landscape with a similar approach and track record? Then reach out to the Landscape Development & Support team.
Want to become part of a community of restoration professionals and enthusiasts learning how to regenerate the planet together? Join our 4 Returns learning network for inspiration, knowledge, and partnership opportunities.
Does Commonland offer (free) courses and learning materials?
Yes, we do! To date, more than 12,000 people have taken our online learning courses.
Join our 4 Returns learning network today to find diverse resources, including landscape restoration courses and tools, community events, matchmaking opportunities, and more. All resources are free to use.
How do I stay updated on Commonland’s work?
Follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram for the latest news and insights from Commonland and our partners, and sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly highlights.
By joining our 4 Returns learning network, you can receive regular updates on courses, tools, stories and events on holistic landscape restoration.
How can I best support holistic landscape restoration?
Whether you’re a farmer looking to transition to more regenerative practices, a policymaker passionate about reversing biodiversity loss, or a philanthropic fund focused on regreening the planet, we want to work with you to restore our home planet.
Here’s how to get involved.