At the September 2014 United Nations Climate Summit, governments rallied around an international agreement—the New York Declaration on Forests—that underscored restoration of degraded ecosystems as an auspicious solution to climate change. Ethiopia committed to restore more than one-sixth of its land. Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, and Colombia pledged to restore huge areas within their borders. In total, parties committed to restore a staggering 350 million hectares by 2030. The ambition affirms restoration’s growing importance in environmental policy. These new commitments follow the 2010 Aichi Convention on Biological Diversity (to restore at least 15% of degraded ecosystems globally) and the 2011 Bonn Challenge (to restore 150 million hectares). Particularly when accompanied by policies to reduce further losses (as in the New York Declaration), restoration of such magnitude holds promise to address global environmental concerns. Achieving this promise requires careful thought about how we restore ecosystems. We outline four core principles of scientifically based, workable, and comprehensive restoration that can provide appropriate best practice guidelines in legal, policy, and planning efforts.
Committing to ecological restoration