10 Principles of Ecosystem Restoration

Abbey Hinkamper | September 16 2021 | 5 min read

Principles for Restoration Done Right

Launched on June 5th, 2021, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021–2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. With scientific evidence identifying this timeframe as a critical juncture to halt, prevent, and reverse ecosystem degradation, many scientists consider this humanity’s last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change – and The UN Decade has partnered with over 60 organizations committed to working together to make this decade count.

One Tree Planted is honored to be recognized as a supporting partner of the UN Decade, and today we’re breaking down the 10 Principles of Ecosystem Restoration originally outlined by the UN to help you better understand the philosophies that guide how we’re tackling climate change and environmental recovery together. 

Read on For the 10 Ecological restoration principles:

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #1

1. Ecosystem Restoration Contributes to Global Goals

Simply put, ecosystem restoration is everybody’s business, and has a global impact. All restoration projects, programs, and initiatives no matter the size, will contribute to global targets for sustaining life on Earth. Without worldwide support, and the restoration of hundreds of millions of hectares globally, we are unlikely to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Seeking to end poverty, conserve biodiversity, combat climate change, and improve livelihoods for everyone, everywhere. The SDGs make it clear: we all have to do our part. To us, this means continuing what we do best planting trees – at a global scale! 

2. Ecosystem Restoration Promotes Environmental Inclusivity 

In order to promote ecosystem restoration with long term results, all people – especially under-represented groups must be inclusively provided with opportunities to be a part of the framework for environmental action in meaningful ways. Inclusion can look like providing equal access to knowledge, resources, and opportunities; addressing social injustice to ensure representation and need; and advocating for restoration to occur in an impartial and equal course of action. At One Tree Planted many of our projects focus on empowering local communities through job creation, training in sustainable tree care, and reforestation designed to address the needs of the local population while also restoring the landscape.

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #3

3. Ecosystem Restoration Requires Diverse Action

Methods of restoration need to be diverse in order to repair degraded ecosystems of all kinds. The activities that support restoration can look different based on the region or project objective, but ultimately all work towards the greater goals of rehabilitating ecosystems and redirecting the course for positive change! Diverse action can come from a diverse range of partners, or one partner who diversifies their own measures. This can be in the form of planting a multitude of tree species, ensuring project plans address both the social and ecological needs of an area, and complementing reforestation with other restorative activities such as trash cleanups or pollinator gardening. 

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #4

4. Ecosystem Restoration Aims for Top Recovery

When it comes to ecosystem restoration, we want to show meaningful outcomes. The more action we take to combat climate change, the more impact we have to heal. The UN Decade’s goal is to “achieve and sustain the greatest net gain possible,” in taking action against degradation from 2021 on – and restoration isn’t a cure-all. Both restoration and conservation play a vital role on the path to future ecological health. In order to truly restore ecosystems we must also look to prevent future harm by halting deforestation and the conditions that lead to environmental degradation.

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #5

5. Ecosystem Restoration Addresses Where We Went Wrong

All of the activities we take part in to combat the effects of deforestation and climate change should also be addressing the sources that created, and furthered the effects of it to prevent future damage. If the causes aren’t addressed – restoration could fail over time, or worse, allow us to repeat history in the long run. Agroforestry is a great example of addressing the root causes of deforestation from unsustainable food systems - and recognizing that agriculture is essential for local communities - yet finding ways to integrate more trees into farms and provide training that moves away from destructive practices towards regenerative ones. 

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #6

6. Ecosystem Restoration Takes All Types of Intelligence

To create an inclusive, and well informed restoration program a comprehensive understanding of nature’s systems is needed. Creating a knowledge bank of scientific, cultural, and traditional sources fosters inclusive environmental decision making and encourages communities to share knowledge about effective practices or innovative approaches to climate action. At One Tree Planted we work with experts in the field of reforestation alongside local community members where planting takes place to create a collaborative educational environment that can allow our trees to thrive.

What does good restoration look like?
Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #7

7. Ecosystem Restoration Has a Ten Year Plan (And a Five Year Plan)

One of the most integral parts to generating positive long term environmental change? Planning ahead. Creating clear objectives and goals for both the long and short term should be established, and based on overall global needs. Tracking progress against these targets allows us to measure any movement away from the baseline of ecosystem degradation, hopefully in a positive direction! At One Tree Planted every project has a well thought out plan before the project is even approved, and then implementation has timelines, milestones, and long-term strategies in place. 

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #8

8. Ecosystem Restoration Thinks Globally, and Locally

Ecosystem restoration happens at both a global, and local scale. No matter the size of the restoration project, and no matter the location – the ecological and conditions within the community are important. Successful restoration depends on adequately addressing the environmental factors such as sea level, wildfires, and climate, as well as the socio-economic needs of a community. To us, this means considering what trees are native and can flourish in any given environment, and how trees will impact the people who are local to planting sites – by providing cleaner air, job opportunities, and reducing global temperatures, among many other tree benefits.

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #9

9. Ecosystem Restoration Must Be Monitored

Recording the changes in our environment has allowed us to understand climate change to date. The continued monitoring of biodiversity, ecological health, and human responses to restoration is an integral part of determining the success of the restoration initiatives, and is an important part of future decision making needs! Here at One Tree Planted, this role is taken on by forestry and monitoring experts who leverage a wide range of technology to make sure we are always working smarter on the long road of reforestation.

Principle of Ecosystem Restoration #10

10. Ecosystem Restoration is Enabled By Policy

When it comes to climate change, young people have the most at stake. Establishing an empowering policy environment, that spans across multiple industries, is important for achieving long-term restoration objectives and goals that affect our younger generations. Although COVID-19 has temporarily reduced the ability to hold in-person protests, you can bet that Gen Z will get back out there as soon as possible. Help them grow by joining in, listening, and offering your support!

The goal of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is simple: to maximize the positive impact we make on ecosystem health – by halting, preventing, and reversing degradation. Together, we can all do our part in this mission. Want to support us in ecosystem restoration? Plant a tree today!

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. Today, we're raising funds to jumpstart forest fire recovery in British Columbia. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Restore landscapes damaged by a historic season of wildfires
  • Create habitat for iconic biodiversity like the moose and grizzly bear
  • Support old-growth management areas to maintain complex ecosystems
  • This reforestation initiative is helping to restore the landscape in British Columbia after the Hanceville fire burned over 590,000 acres in 2017 and natural regeneration has not occurred. The fire has impacted the forest, soils, riparian ecosystems, wildlife, and water quality. Local indigenous communities have seen their ability to hunt and gather food drastically altered. But your support will go a long way! The goal of planting trees here is to not only re-establish a healthy forest, but also to plant species that will be resilient in the face of climate change. Thank you so much for your support of healthy forests! 🌲
  • Planting trees will catalyze the process of returning the area to a forested state. Newly planted trees will begin the process of sequestering atmospheric carbon, and over time improve the hydrological benefits of the forest. The ecosystems that have been greatly simplified by extreme fire conditions will once again become complex ecosystems, This project will also create habitat for many local wildlife species including mule deer, moose, black and grizzly bear, wolves, sandhill cranes, various raptors, songbirds, and small mammals.
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • B.C.'s rich forest diversity includes more than 40 different species of native trees, with some of Canada’s most interesting and valuable tree species. In this project, we made efforts to maximize species diversity, including the following species: Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, hybrid spruce, ponderosa pine, trembling aspen.


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