Restoring and maintaining the beneficial contributions of drylands to improve people's livelihoods in them are often crucial to both local well-being and global sustainable development. The non-material links between people and dryland ecosystems are largely ignored and its integration into dryland restoration and management remains a challenge. The studies reviewed in this paper highlight the development of cultural ecosystem services (CES) evaluation in drylands. We found that CES may act as a reference or indicator for diverse motivations and mitigate the potential conflicts between individuals and groups and has great potential for fostering sustainable dryland development with local engagement. The way that local people would be influenced by or the role that they could play in influencing dryland restorations should be interconnected, to improve the shared ecological and socio-cultural benefits.