Over the last centuries, vast forest areas have been cleared as agriculture has spread and human populations have grown. Today around 30 percent of global forest cover has been completely cleared and a further 20 percent has been degraded. Breaking the spiral of loss and degradation and restoring these lands would bring untold benefits to people and the planet.

More than two billion hectares worldwide offer opportunities for restoration — an area larger than South America.

The Global Partnership for Forest Landscape Restoration recently estimated the world's extent of degraded land available for restoration. They discovered that restoration opportunities with the potential to make real improvements to human lives and environmental quality can be found everywhere but especially in tropical and temperate areas.

Key Findings for the Planet

  • One and a half billion hectares of degraded land offer opportunities for MOSAIC restoration, in which forests are combined with other land uses incorporating trees, including agroforestry, small-holder agriculture, and buffer plantings around settlements.
  • Up to about half a billion hectares of degraded land are suitable for WIDE-SCALE restoration, which would result in closed and continuous forests.
  • In addition to these two billion hectares, there are 200 million hectares of unpopulated lands, mainly in the far northern boreal forests, that have been degraded by fire. These REMOTE restoration areas would be difficult to restore actively but could regain health and function naturally without assistance.

Croplands and densely populated rural areas on former forest lands amount to a further one billion hectares. These lands do not offer extensive restoration opportunities in terms of total land area, but many would benefit from strategic tree plantings to protect and enhance agricultural productivity, watershed health, and other ecosystem functions.

What's my national opportunity?

How was this map made?

To serve the formation of the Bonn Challenge goal, IUCN commissioned a global analysis of restoration opportunity. Learn about the methods behind the map - and its limitations!