Land Degradation Neutrality is one of the Sustainable Development Goal targets, requiring on-going degradation to be balanced by restoration and sustainable land management. However, restoration and efforts to prevent degradation have often failed to deliver expected benefits, despite enormous investments. Better acknowledging the close relationships between climate, land management and non-linear ecosystem dynamics can help restoration activities to meet their intended goals, while supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation. This paper is the first to link ecological theory of non-linear ecosystem dynamics to Land Degradation Neutrality offering essential insights into appropriate timings, climate-induced windows of opportunities and risks and the financial viability of investments. These novel insights are pre-requisites for meaningful operationalisation and monitoring of progress towards Land Degradation Neutrality.