Ecosystems and Private Sector


Thematic Group Leads

Jacob Park

Logo Commonland


Commonland’s goal is to realize large-scale landscape restoration with local farmers, land-users and experts, based on sustainable business cases. The company’s mission is to contribute to a large-scale landscape restoration industry, aligned with international policies and guidelines.

Commonland was formally founded by IUCN CEM, Rotterdam School of Management and the COmON Foundation in 2013. Initiator and director Willem Ferwerda has a long track record in ecosystem management, restoration and conservation. He was former director of IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands, founder of Leaders for Nature, and member of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management. Commonland’s mission partners are IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Economics of Land Degradation (GIZ), Wageningen University and Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University. It is a member of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) and has established close ties with UNEP and UNCCD.

Commonland has its focus on demonstrating, proving and communicating that landscape restoration can be achieved based on a sustainable business approach, delivering 4 returns. These 4 returns are: return of inspiration, return of social capital, return of natural capital and return of financial capital. Commonland applies a 3 zones landscaping principle in its approach and recognizes that it takes 20 years – or one generation – to restore a landscape.

Within a landscape, Commonland, jointly with local stakeholders and its locally based and majority-owned development companies, structures and builds business cases, and helps to make these business cases investment ready. Multidisciplinary teams actively involve investors, companies and entrepreneurs in long-term restoration partnerships with farmers and land-users. Projects can be wider landscape restorations with multiple businesses, jointly generating 4 returns, or individual businesses that create the 4 returns in one business concept. The goal is to develop projects that are scalable and replicable to increase ultimate impact.

Commonland consists of a foundation, a fund and development companies. The foundation develops the restoration approach and works in close cooperation with scientific institutions, business schools and experts from non-governmental organizations. The development companies grow the landscape restoration projects and work on sustainable business cases with different stakeholders in the field, taking all interests into account. To build on present strengths, the development companies partner with existing initiatives. The fund co-invests in landscape restoration projects and businesses.

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  • 4 returns, 3 zones, 20 years

    4 returns, 3 zones, 20 years

    Photo: Commonland, RSM & IUCN CEM

Commonland - 4 Returns from Landscape Restoration