The political ecology playbook for ecosystem restoration: Principles for effective, equitable, and transformative landscapes

August 2021

by Tracey Osborne, Samara Brock, Robin Chazdon, Susan Chomba, Eva Garen, Victoria Gutierrez, Rebecca Lave, Manon Lefevre, Juanita Sundberg

The political ecology playbook for ecosystem restoration

The urgency of restoring ecosystems to improve human wellbeing and mitigate climate and biodiversity crises is attracting global attention. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030) is a global call to action to support the restoration of degraded ecosystems. And yet, many forest restoration efforts, for instance, have failed to meet restoration goals; indeed, they worsened social precarities and ecological conditions. By merely focusing on symptoms of forest loss and degradation, these interventions have neglected the underlying issues of equity and justice driving forest decline. To address these root causes, thus creating socially just and sustainable solutions, we develop the Political Ecology Playbook for Ecosystem Restoration. We outline a set of ten principles for achieving long-lasting, resilient, and equitable ecosystem restoration. These principles are guided by political ecology, a framework that addresses environmental concerns from a broadly political economic perspective, attending to power, politics, and equity within specific geographic and historical contexts. Drawing on the chain of explanation, this multi-scale, cross-landscapes Playbook aims to produce healthy relationships between people and nature that are ecologically, socially, and economically just – and thus sustainable and resilient – while recognizing the political nature of such relationships. We argue that the Political Ecology Playbook should guide ecosystem restoration worldwide.


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