The Challenge

Commonland has the ambition to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land worldwide by 2040 – 5% of the 2 billion hectares of degraded land on the planet. Altiplano Estepario in Southern Spain, that encompasses 1 million hectares, is one of its successful restoration initiatives. However, in order to scale up the existing projects in Spain, and in other parts of the world, Commonland first needs to convince local farmers that it is financially attractive for them to switch from conventional farming to sustainable farming combined with reforestation. Only after having the farmers’ financials analysed, can Commonland approach public and private investors with a concrete proposal for long-term funding. What should the financials for the farmers look like? What proposal can Commonland make to investors?

Global Context 

Approximately a quarter of the Earth’s land mass is seriously degraded from centuries of overgrazing, monoculture, deforestation, extractive industry, urban infrastructure, and over exploitation. An estimated of 7.3 million hectares of forests are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This has led to a reduction of the land’s capacity to provide ecosystem services.

There are two billion hectares of degraded land with the potential to be restored in the world today. From this amount, 1.5 billion hectares are suitable for mosaic landscape restoration, in which trees and forests are combined with other land uses including agroforestry. These integrated systems represent a huge opportunity for ecosystems’ recovery, communities’ development, and businesses creation, and therefore positively impact the societies built upon them. 

Figure 1. Global Land Degradation