Chapter 4.6 – Four Returns, Three Zones, 20 Years: A Systemic Approach to Scale up Landscape Restoration by Businesses and Investors to Create a Restoration Industry

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By Willem H. Ferwerda, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, Gland, Switzerland; Commonland Foundation, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Abstract

The restoration of 2 billion ha of degraded ecosystems is of global importance to our economy. Governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) alone do not have the sufficient resources to restore these lands. However, in order to involve businesses and investors in the process, a common understanding must be established that maximizing return on investment (ROI) per hectare is the main cause of large-scale degradation. Increasingly this brings our global economy and human wellbeing at risk, as it leads to loss of biodiversity, healthy soils and forest cover, water scarcity, global warming and it brings global food security at risk. A new ecosystem restoration model is proposed that invites businesses and investors to actively participate in restoration. It is using a common language in order to unite all stakeholders in the landscape and is based on scientific expertise and technical innovations while opening the possibility for sustainable business models based on four returns. The Four Returns/Three Zones/20 Years business model is maximizing four returns per hectare instead of maximizing only ROI. It combines the return of Financial Capital with return of Social Capital (jobs), Natural Capital (Biodiversity) while connecting the landscape to man’s inner purpose through returning Inspirational Capital. Active involvement in Four Returns ecosystem restoration results in understanding stakeholders’ motivations. To achieve these four returns a three landscaping zones approach is proposed: a natural, mixed, and economic zone. Projects should at least have a time line of 20 years (or one generation) to be successful. This section calls on all actors to build evidence for a restoration industry, replacing the degradation industry, to contribute to global goals based on this “Four Returns” approach.

Download the full chapter at ScienceDirect.

Acknowledgments

Many individuals have contributed to the Four Returns model. A full overview can be found in Ferwerda (2012). For this chapter, I am especially thankful to Ed Barrow, Dieter van den Broeck, John Loudon, Kosima Liu, John D. Liu, Michiel de Man, Dominique Noome, Hans van Poelvoorde, Herman Rosa Chavéz, Wijnand Pon, Thekla Teunis, Astrid Vargas, Piet Wit, Herman Wijffels, Maurits Roodhuijzen, Sofia Marrone, and Petra van Veelen

 

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About the Author

Willem Ferwerda

Willem Ferwerda has a long track record in ecology, biodiversity, conservation and business. He studied tropical ecology, agriculture and environmental science and is an expert in multi-stakeholder processes. When heading the Netherlands office of IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, he supported hundreds of local conservation and restoration projects in the tropics.

Besides being the founder of Leaders for Nature, an international business network on biodiversity and ecosystems, Willem Ferwerda is also board member and advisor of several institutions, and an executive business and ecosystem fellow at the Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University (Netherlands) and the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (Switzerland). In 2010 he created the first agreement on ecosystems and biodiversity between the Netherlands Confederation of Industries and nature organizations. Willem has worked in Latin America, Africa and Europe.

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