7 steps to launch your own restoration project 

Here’s how to embark on your restoration journey

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The climate and biodiversity crises are already affecting people and landscapes around the world. But there’s one natural remedy that can tackle them both: restoring degraded and damaged landscapes.

There are already countless restoration projects that are turning degraded landscapes into beacons of hope and resilience – including those led by our own Restoration Stewards and GLFx community.

We recently covered five of the most important things you should know about restoration. Now, let’s dive deeper into how you can join this thriving new global movement and start your own restoration project. Here’s a step-by-step guide to guide you through the process.

Step 1: Set the foundations

Define your restoration goals. Start by looking at the big picture and deciding what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and how you’ll turn your vision into reality. Be sure to articulate your restoration goals based on local and regional challenges and opportunities, and understand the specific environmental issues you aim to address.

Identify a suitable approach. This should be appropriate to your local and regional context. Some common restoration approaches include forest and landscape restoration (FLR) and ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) – learn more by checking out the resources below.

Identify local stakeholders. Map out key local stakeholders, including community members, local authorities, NGOs and potential partners. Assess their interests and what roles they can play in the restoration process.

Research legal and policy frameworks. Make sure your project aligns with existing local, regional and national environmental policies, and identify barriers and explore avenues to navigate these policy landscapes effectively.

Key resources

Factsheet: Restoration and Climate Change
Factsheet: Restoration and climate change

Forest and landscape restoration (FLR), also referred to as ecosystem restoration, is about much more than just planting trees. Instead, it’s the process of restoring deforested or degraded landscapes using a wide range of methods to meet both human and ecological needs.

How to implement agroecology as a systemic adaptation response
How to implement agroecology as a systemic adaptation response

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) uses natural ecosystem services to enhance resilience and sustainability. It shares common principles with agroecology and seeks to strengthen ecosystem services for sustainable livelihoods and overall well-being.

Step 2: Plan your restoration project

Conduct a site analysis. Remember to account for ecological conditions, biodiversity and potential challenges. Identify past projects in the area and analyze their successes and challenges.

Adopt suitable restoration techniques, whether it’s tree planting, farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) or agroforestry, to make your project more effective. Your project plan should be informed by information from both primary and secondary sources, including national geographic data and biodiversity inventories. 

Set objectives and create a project plan. This should include milestones and timelines and outline every detail about your project. From start to finish, it should cover your concept, objectives, goals, processes, steps, schedules and financial requirements.

Develop a budget and funding strategy. Your budget should be realistic and account for all aspects of the restoration process. Consider exploring funding opportunities, including grants and partnerships, to achieve your goals.

Key resources

Agroforestry: a primer
Agroforestry: a primer

Agroforestry is a land use system that combines trees with crops, trees with livestock, or trees with both crops and livestock.

Releasing the underground forest
Releasing the underground forest

Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is a technical practice and community-led development approach that involves empowering local communities to restore their landscapes through the systematic regrowth and management of existing trees and shrubs from tree stumps, sprouting root systems and wild seeds.

Step 3: Gather resources

Carry out a resource inventory. This should be a comprehensive list of useful resources such as seeds, plants, tools and expertise. 

Make connections. These can be with government agencies, local nurseries, research institutions and other potential collaborators who can provide you with resources and support.

Explore funding mechanisms. Get informed about the financial landscape of restoration, and learn how private-sector engagement can contribute to financing opportunities. Funding mechanisms like the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and the Partnership for Forests provide guides on public policy and lessons learned from case studies through their resource libraries.

If you’re involved with a nature-based project that needs funding, be sure to add it to the GLF’s portfolio so we can connect you with potential investors.

Pro tip: Stay ahead of the game by creating a funding calendar to keep track of deadlines and requirements. Keep your calendar up to date by checking regularly for calls from banks and institutions. Also consider establishing an internal library of resources to deepen your understanding of various funding mechanisms.

Key resources

Payment for ecosystem services in practice
Payment for ecosystem services in practice

Payment for ecosystem services (PES) is a system whereby the beneficiaries or users of an ecosystem service pay providers for that service. This typically involves a series of payments in exchange for ongoing benefits. The core concept is that service providers should be compensated for their contributions. This report explores the PES market in Indonesia.

IKI small grants fact sheet
IKI small grants fact sheet

The IKI Small Grants program provides funding within two components: ‘international calls’ and ‘funding institutions’. Both components fund non-profit projects and initiatives that address the four IKI support areas:

  • Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Adaptation to the impacts of climate change
  • Conservation of natural carbon sinks/REDD+
  • Conservation of biodiversity

Step 4: Implement your restoration project

Conduct a risk assessment. Identify and evaluate potential uncertainties and hazards. Develop strategies to mitigate risks such as environmental challenges, funding issues and regulatory changes.

Implement your project in phases. Start with smaller, manageable steps to test methodologies, learn from experiences and make informed decisions before scaling up.

Create a robust monitoring and evaluation system. Assess your progress regularly, adapt strategies based on feedback, and take stock of your project’s ecological impacts.

Embrace adaptive management principles. Be flexible about adjusting strategies, incorporating new insights and responding to unforeseen challenges as your project unfolds. 

Scale up your project: Draw inspiration from successful initiatives, like those led by our Restoration Stewards, to guide the phased growth of your project. Adopt adaptive strategies and forge collaborative partnerships to scale up effectively.

Watch now: Impact monitoring

Impact investors are increasingly demanding impact monitoring tools to ensure that investments are building climate resilience and conserving biodiversity. In this video from GLF–Luxembourg Finance for Nature 2023, learn how impact monitoring can help you attract investors to your restoration project.

Step 5: Engagement with your community

Make sure you involve local communities from the start. You can help the community build a sense of ownership in your project by encouraging the active participation of youth and women, seeking local knowledge and addressing community concerns. Proactively engage with community leaders, including elders and champions, to secure their support.

Conduct educational programs. These can provide communities with the knowledge and skills they need to contribute to and sustain the project. Communities often learn more effectively through observation. Identify key champions to establish a demonstration plot or site, and use it as a focal point for other community members to learn and draw inspiration from.

Set effective communication goals. Define channels to keep the community informed about project developments, milestones, and opportunities for involvement.

Reach out and make connections. Join restoration events and learning activities such as GLF events and online courses. Meet fellow changemakers to exchange ideas and learn from each other’s experiences.

Pro tip: Harness the power of storytelling by documenting each achievement and challenge you face to create a global narrative of change and hope. Share these stories on your social media channels to engage your audience. As an example, watch poet and writer Wangui Kimani present her winning entry from the 2023 African Youth Storytelling Contest, titled “Tales of Taste”:

Step 6: Grow your restoration project sustainably

Develop a long-term vision for your project. Plan for ongoing maintenance, community engagement, and the integration of the project into local and regional initiatives.

Forge collaborations. Join forces with local organizations, governmental bodies and businesses, and build partnerships that will ensure your project’s long-term success.

Build capacity. Invest in training members of your local community to strengthen their skills, knowledge, and organizational capabilities. This will enable them to plan, implement and sustain your project more effectively.

Pro tip: Join the GLFx network to connect with fellow restoration practitioners in your area and around the world, and visit our library of online courses to help you upskill your fellow community members.

Step 7: Manage knowledge and grow your network

Document your journey. Systematically keep track of progress, capturing successes, challenges and lessons learned.

Share your knowledge. Use digital platforms, workshops and community forums to connect with experts and share insights with the broader restoration community. These can include project methodologies, resources and outcomes. 

Keep learning. Stay up to date on emerging trends and best practices in restoration. Apply new knowledge to enhance and refine your project and ensure it remains effective and relevant.

Network. Join existing restoration networks like the Youth in Landscapes Initiative and the GLF’s community-led chapters. Share your experiences, learn from others, and help develop a collective knowledge base to boost restoration efforts around the world.

Key resources

Funding options for ecosystem restoration in Central America and Africa
Funding options for ecosystem restoration in Central America and Africa

Learn from success cases and assess funding sources for local non-profit organizations engaged in ecosystem restoration in Central America and Africa.

Forest-based adaptation: transformational adaptation through forests and trees
Forest-based adaptation: transformational adaptation through forests and trees

Discover 10 principles for using forests and trees to promote transformational adaptation.

We hope you found this guide useful and embark on your restoration journey with determination and purpose. If you’d like to learn more, you’ll find a comprehensive library of resources on sustainable landscapes at the GLF Knowledge Hub, our one-stop shop for interviews, videos, publications and more about sustainable landscapes.

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