Restoring forests and landscapes

Large areas worldwide have been deforested or degraded which impacts soil fertility, biodiversity and carbon stocks. This puts restoration of degraded land high on the international agenda. Our website provides more insight into forest and landscape restoration initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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A strategy to restore degraded lands

Deforestation and land degradation increase competition for scarce natural resources and threaten the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Pressure on land resources will keep rising due to a growing world population and changing diets.

Forest and landscape restoration is an important strategy to improve environmental conditions, enhance biodiversity, and increase the provision of ecosystem services. Through forest and landscape restoration, degraded lands can regain ecological functionality, which will improve people’s livelihoods.

Adaptation to climate change in Guatemala

This UNDP/GEF Community-Based Adaptation project aims to strengthen the Pin Pin Community’s resilience to adverse impacts of climate change through reforestation and sustainable soil conservation practices. Through a participatory approach, community members were involved in the planning and implementation of the project.

Picture by UNDP/GEF

A bird's eye view

Various forest and landscape restoration initiatives
are active in Latin America and the Caribbean


Initiative 20x20 aims to bring 20 million hectares of land in Latin America and the Caribbean into restoration by 2020.


The Forest Investment Program (FIP) supports REDD+ projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.


The Global Environment Facility (GEF) aims to reverse land degradation by implementing sustainable land management projects.


The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) implements emission-reduction projects in developing countries by establishing plantations.


Various local restoration projects are implemented by local governments, non-governmental organizations and research organizations.

Most projects are located in the humid tropics

While projects are spread over the whole region, most projects are located in the humid tropics. The potential to store additional forest biomass, so called restoration potential, is indicated in the map by the shades of green in the background.

Restoration projects targeting high restoration potential areas can have a significant contribution towards mitigating climate change. The white areas in the map are not covered by forests. Projects in these – predominantly mountainous - areas aim to restore shrublands, grasslands and steppes.

More information about the methods used to create this map can be found in Chapter 15 of the CIFOR book 'Transforming REDD+: Lessons and new directions'.

The majority of projects act at a small scale

These small-scale projects are implemented through local initiatives, Initiative 20x20 or the CDM mechanism. The FIP and GEF initiatives typically include larger projects.

The figure shows the number of projects, and how these are spread across the different project size categories. The used data is from 2018.

Agroforestry in Nicaragua

In the highlands of Nicaragua, coffee is grown under a canopy of shade. Agroforestry, a combination of agriculture and forestry, is a strategy for restoring degraded lands. As opposed to conventional agriculture, there are many benefits such as increased productivity, higher biodiversity and erosion control.

Picture by ICRAF

Restoration is happening now

Most restoration projects are ongoing, represented by the circles in the graph. A lot of FIP projects are in the planning phase. Initiative 20x20 has already finalized a large number of their projects. The smaller scale, lower budget projects usually have a short life-span of a few years. The higher budget projects, such as CDM, FIP and GEF often have longer life-spans that can last for more than 20 years.

The figure shows the different project phases expressed as a percentage of the total amount of projects per initiative. The used data is from 2018.

Increasing vegetation cover most common goal

The projects share many similar goals. Increasing vegetation cover, biodiversity recovery and recovery of ecological processes are the most important goals. But there are also differences among the projects.

Climate change mitigation for example, is always a goal for CDM and FIP projects, and often for GEF projects. However, this goal is typically not pursued by local projects, and to a lesser extent by projects under the Initiative 20x20.

The figure shows the percentages per goal per initiative. The used data is from 2018.

Silvo-pastoral system in Mexico

This silvo-pastoral system in Chiapas, Mexico integrates forage and livestock production with forestry. The trees provide shade for the animals. The combination of land uses enhances soil protection and increases farmers income.

Picture by Robin Chazdon

A diversity of activities lead to a common goal

Projects undertake several activities to reach their restoration goals. Local projects and 20x20 projects mostly deploy activities such as natural regeneration, exclusion of grazing and erosion control. FIP and GEF projects generally use natural regeneration and assisted regeneration. CDM projects always establish one or more types of forest plantation, which often includes a monoculture of (exotic) species.

Some rectangles are not large enough to display labels. Hover over them to view the label. The used data is from 2018.






Forest and landscape restoration is a continuous development

This website presents findings from a database which is part of a collaborative research project. The entire database is available on this page. As restoring degraded lands remains of vital importance in the coming decades, new projects are implemented continuously. Our research will monitor new developments closely and we will add new information when it becomes available. So stay tuned for more updates!