Reconciling landscape restoration targets with local realities (Daniel Wiegant)

The loss and degradation of ecosystem functions in montane landscapes such as the Ecuadorian and Ethiopian highlands reduces their water regulation capacity, negatively impacts biodiversity and exacerbates climate change. The restoration of degraded lands has become an urgent priority to ensure human well-being, by securing the role of montane landscapes in water regulation, as biodiversity habitats, and as carbon sinks.

In recognition of the significant opportunities to restore degraded and deforested lands, national governments are now manifesting ambitious commitments and unparalleled political will to restore 350 million hectares by 2030. However, while it is the national governments that pledge millions of hectares of degraded land to be restored, it is the local governments that often need to fulfil these pledges. This places special attention on the governance arrangements that are required to translate national restoration objectives into local action.

This PhD project focuses on the scale challenges that emerge in landscape restoration governance, by analysing how national restoration plans in Ecuador and Ethiopia are implemented at the local level. The research draws on scaling theory, and collaborative and adaptive governance literature to dissect the governance arrangements and strategies used through which restoration actors at multiple levels reconcile national targets with local realities. By applying a participatory and qualitative research approach focused on the local-global nexus, the project aims to advance practically-relevant theoretical knowledge on the strategies that are used to realise landscape restoration governance.


This research is conducted in collaboration with partner institutions that are involved in policy and implementation processes related to landscape restoration. These are the Consorcio para el desarrollo de la ecorregiĆ³n andina (CONDESAN) in Ecuador, the Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC) in Ethiopia, the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and the World Resources Institute (WRI) in the United States.