Ecosystem restoration

The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) challenges everyone to massively scale up restoration efforts that breathe new life into our degraded ecosystems. Restoring our planet’s imperilled ecosystems intrinsically connects us with a chance at a healthier future. We will work together to bring life and function back to our scarred ecosystems through extensive and pro-active restoration – rebuilding degraded areas to improve habitat for wildlife, protect our soils and watersheds, support economic resiliency, and better confront a changing climate.

About Ecosystem restoration

Ecosystem restoration manifests through actions as varied as new mangroves, grass or other plantings, natural or assisted regeneration, agroforestry, soil enhancement measures, or improved and sustainable management to accommodate a mosaic of land, aquatic, or marine uses.

Any degraded ecosystem including agricultural areas, savannah, wetlands, protected wildlife reserves, fisheries, managed plantations, riversides, coastal areas and many others may offer opportunities for improvement through restoration. Ecosystem restoration could focus on re-establishing ecological integrity on a hillside or a sea grass bed to the large-scale landscape restoration of a plateau or mountain range.

The tangible benefits of the Decade can be viewed through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as substantial Nature-based Solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation, water and food security, poverty reduction, economic growth and biodiversity conservation.

$125 trillion


contribution of landscapes and marine ecosystem services every year to the global economy

22 countries


are using the Restoration Barometer to report the progress of their restoration targets and more than 50 countries have endorsed it.

IUCN's role?

Every government, community, conservation organisation and private enterprise will play a role in fulfilling the objectives of the Decade. The Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Environment Programme are the UN agencies tasked with facilitating its delivery. IUCN joins the two UN agencies along with the Global Landscapes Forum to form the consortium for the implementation of the Decade.

IUCN adopted WCC-2020-Res-035 in its last World Conservation Congress, where members made express requests to raise the ambition on ecosystem restoration in line with the CBD Post2020 global biodiversity framework, with specific support towards implementation.

As such, IUCN contributes to the Decade through (i) developing scientific underpinning to guide implementation of restoration activities, (ii) supporting monitoring through flagship tools including the Red List of Ecosystems and the Restoration Barometer, (iii) mobilising its constituency to action on the ground, and (iv) paving the way for global communities of action in all ecosystems.

Policy positions

Remake the world

As a farmer or a small landholder, you have the tremendous power to shape ecosystems. Use this power and join the planet’s biggest landscape restoration promise by becoming a part of the Bonn Challenge. The actions of one farmer can make a difference. The restorative actions of one million farmers, can remake the world.

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IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology 2.0

The IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology is a hierarchical classification system that, in its upper levels, defines ecosystems by their convergent ecological functions and, in its lower levels, distinguishes ecosystems with contrasting assemblages of species engaged in those functions. This report describes the three upper levels of the hierarchy, which provide a framework for understanding and comparing the key ecological traits of functionally different ecosystems and their drivers. An understanding of these traits and drivers is essential to support ecosystem management.

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IUCN Restoration Intervention Typology for Terrestrial Ecosystems

IUCN spurs restoration action and monitoring by launching a typology of restoration interventions for ALL terrestrial ecosystem types including coasts and inland waters. The ecosystem types were derived from the IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology and the grouping of ecosystems for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.  The typology also aligns with existing or emerging classification systems, such as the one that will be used by the upcoming Mangrove Restoration Tracker Tool developed under the Global Mangrove Alliance.

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More on policy and standards

IUCN and the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

IUCN is already spearheading science and practice on ecosystem restoration through its 70 years of work with members and partners around the world, in its role as the secretariat of the Bonn Challenge, and as founder and coordinator of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR).

IUCN’s Nature-based Solutions Group is forging inroads on restoration through flagship programmes like The Restoration Initiative, SUSTAIN, and Catalysing Private Sector Commitment to the Bonn Challenge, to name a few. Coupled with expertise in the application of the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) – the most widely used restoration planning resource of its kind – and with growing experience in restoration science, policy and capacity building, IUCN is well-positioned to support countries with the implementation of this Decade.

The Decade is also energising IUCN’s vast network of members, commissions, partners and experts, reinforcing our long-standing commitment to conserving and restoring ecosystems, and building on advances that we have already made to enable restoration. The stage is set to catalyse support, spur scientific research and mobilise the financial will to dramatically advance restoration on hundreds of millions of hectares in every type of ecosystem, from the mountaintops to the seafloor.

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