Press release | 06 Dec, 2012

Landscape restoration movement approaches 50 million hectares with El Salvador and Costa Rica commitments

Doha, Qatar, 6 December, 2012 (IUCN) -- The global movement to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020 – known as the “Bonn Challenge” – gains further momentum at the UN Climate Talks in Doha today, as Costa Rica and El Salvador each commit up to1 million hectares. The 50 million hectare mark – or one third of the target – is now within reach, amid broad acknowledgement that the largest restoration initiative in history is truly underway.

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Achieving the Bonn Challenge – launched in September 2011 in Bonn Germany by the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) – would deliver a host of major benefits to humanity and the planet, such as improving food security, protecting biodiversity and benefiting people’s livelihoods. Costa Rica and El Salvador are the latest in joining USA, Rwanda and the Brazilian Mata Atlantica Restoration Pact in making pledges.

“Governments and people are calling for achievable solutions to the major threats we face today, including climate change. The Bonn Challenge is a nature-based solution—which is why it is capturing the world’s attention,” explains Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN, which coordinates the GPFLR. “While the progress so far has been wonderful, it is only through continued pledges like the ones by El Salvador and Costa Rica that we can reach our global target.”

With formal pledges now over 20 million hectares, a pre-pledge declaration of intent from India of 10 million, and another 20 million in the pipeline from the Meso American Alliance of Peoples and Forests, a staggering 50 million hectares of commitments is now within reach.

“Restoring 150 million hectares over the next 10 years could potentially close the ‘emissions gap’ by 11-17% and inject more than US$ 80 billion per year into local and national economies,” according to Stewart Maginnis, Global Director of Nature-Based Solutions, IUCN.

“Our commitment to restoring one million hectares - half the country's territory - is a serious and desperate response to a changing climate that earned El Salvador the first and fourth places in Germanwatch´s Global Climate Risk Index in 2009 and 2011, respectively,” says Herman Rosa Chavez, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources for El Salvador. “With adequate support, landscape restoration at this scale will also allow us to make an important contribution to climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation, greatly enhancing our carbon sinks, improving livelihoods, ecosystem services and disaster resilience. Landscape restoration may be seen as a mitigation strategy, but for El Salvador it is an urgent and essential element for adaptation and reducing escalating climate related losses and damages.”

“As Ambassador for the Plant a Pledge Campaign and Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation I am delighted with the pledges announced by El Salvador and Costa Rica today, which take us to 20 million hectares, and bring 50 million within reach. We look forward to other commitments in the pipeline from India and the Meso-American Alliance of Peoples and Forests being formalised with the GPFLR soon.” says Bianca Jagger, Ambassador of the Plant a Pledge Campaign, and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.

“Environmental destruction is a serious human rights issue and the Bonn Challenge has never been more relevant. Restoration of degraded and deforested lands is not simply about planting trees. People and communities are at the heart of the restoration effort, which transforms barren or degraded areas of land into healthy, fertile working landscapes.”

“The public should continue to appeal to governments, businesses, landowners and communities to contribute to the Bonn Challenge target. We have a unique opportunity to renew our degraded and deforested landscapes now. Our fate and the fate of future generations depend on it."

Earlier this year, during the UN Sustainable Development “Rio +20” talks in Rio de Janeiro, more than one million people voted the Bonn Challenge as the second most important issue upon which heads of state should act. To harness this public appetite, Airbus and IUCN launched the Plant a Pledge campaign, which through an online petition empowers all people to call on governments, landowners and communities to contribute land to the Bonn Challenge. This unique partnership has provided a platform that has driven popular involvement in the recent successes of the Bonn Challenge and shows leadership in working together to activate practical solutions.

“I urge everyone to support our campaign and sign our petition at, ” says Jagger.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations, m +41 79 857 4072, e 

Editor’s Notes


In September 2011 commitments were made to the GPFLR by governments, business leaders and environmental experts to work towards the restoration of 150 million hectares of lost landscapes by 2020. This ambitious but attainable target represents a giant step forward in the acceptance of landscape restoration as a means of meeting global and local challenges. It has become known as the “Bonn Challenge”, and is widely acknowledged as the largest restoration initiative the world has ever seen.
The Bonn Challenge will make a significant contribution to the existing Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Target 15 (aiming for the restoration of at least 15% of the world’s degraded ecosystems by 2020), and the UNFCCC REDD-Plus goal (to slow, halt and reverse forest cover and carbon loss).


The IUCN and GPFLR partners are working to help governments, landowners, corporations and non-governmental organizations define their commitments. Including: area to be restored; timescale (before and after the 2020 date); functions, purpose; and the type of activities.
• Those who own or have the right to manage land pledged for restoration will be tracked and held to account by the GPFLR.
• Commitments will be announced at GPFLR events over the next 12 months. They will be made public on the GPFLR website and linked to the IUCN/Airbus Plant a Pledge campaign ‘counter’.
• Reaching the Bonn Challenge target will depend on the success of hundreds of landscape restoration projects around the world.


• Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) turns barren or degraded areas of land into healthy, fertile, working landscapes that can meet the needs of people and the natural environment, sustainably.
• Repairing ruined landscapes restores their ability to support people, wildlife and livelihoods, put back some of the world’s capacity to process greenhouse gases and pump an estimated US$ 84 billion (net) into the global economy


• Plant a Pledge is the public facing campaign designed by the IUCN and Airbus to build a significant groundswell of support, urging Governments, Businesses and Environmental experts to work together to restore lost landscapes around the world with the aim of meeting the Bonn Challenge - the biggest restoration initiative the world has ever seen
• We would encourage everybody to visit, to pledge support. Your click will contribute to the upsurge of public pressure on governments to deliver on their promises – taking millions of people out of poverty, injecting billions into world economies and making the world a greener, more sustainable place.
• The IUCN will use these signatories to ensure that governments put their pledges in writing – outlining specific promises about land areas, locations, timescales and methods of restoration.

The ‘emissions gap’

The emission reductions gap is the estimated shortfall in climate mitigation action, once all current greenhouse gas reduction efforts and commitments are taken into account, required to avoid global temperature increases exceeding 2oC.


The Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration

The Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) is a worldwide network that unites influential governments, major UN and non-governmental organisations, business and individuals with a common cause.

The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) was launched in 2003 by IUCN, WWF and the Forestry Commission of Great Britain. Since then more than 25 governments and international and non-governmental organizations have joined.

The GPFLR builds support for restoration with decision-makers and opinion-formers at both local and international level, and influence legal, political and institutional frameworks to support FLR.

The GPFLR’s Learning Network is vital to the sharing of FLR experience from around the world, and to the achievement of milestones such as the Bonn Challenge target. That experience includes helping to bring about breakthrough projects and undertakings in settings as diverse as China, Rwanda, Indonesia, North Korea, Brazil and the US.

The Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), together with the government of Germany, co-hosted the roundtable meeting in Bonn in September 2011 at which the Bonn Challenge target was agreed.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN coordinates the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), which, together with the government of Germany, co-hosted the roundtable meeting in Bonn in September 2011 at which the Bonn Challenge target was agreed.