The 4 Returns Diagnosis

To create a better understanding of the 4 Returns in your landscape, you could conduct a 4 Returns Diagnosis assessment. The 4 Returns Diagnosis offers a comprehensive snapshot of the status of the 4 Returns within the landscape and impact achieved so far. This can be useful to stakeholders who are new to landscape restoration, as well as to stakeholders who are already working in a landscape and want to broaden their approach. The content is gathered through interviews with landscape stakeholders and complemented by existing resources such as local information, literature, and reports.

Although the main purpose of the 4 Returns Diagnosis is to assess the 4 Returns in your landscape, it could also be used for:

  • Creating a shared understanding of the 4 Returns and the state of your landscape
  • Identifying potential areas of focus and barriers to restoration
  • Developing pilot designs and interventions for holistic landscape restoration
  • Input for a landscape proposition
  • Input for the strategic direction of a holistic landscape restoration plan

How does it work?

The assessment dives into all 4 Returns, which are explained in more detail in the guidebook chapter ‘Unpacking the 4 Returns’. The return of inspiration, for example, includes awareness, connection to the landscape, and behavioural change. Each of these, in turn, consist of several factors. Using the 4 Returns diagnostic Tool (see yellow link below), you rate the state of all these factors on a scale from 1 to 4, including an explanation. This data creates a 4 Returns diagram for each return. The tool is very self-explanatory and once filled in, a diagnosis report is generated. This is not a definitive landscape assessment but a glimpse into the landscape that serves as a starting point for discussions to shape strategies and interventions for holistic landscape restoration.

After the 4 Returns Diagnosis

Having done the 4 Returns Diagnosis with all relevant stakeholders, you can think about viable next steps. The nature of these next steps will vary depending on your landscape’s stage and particular needs. Some potential follow-up workshops include:

  • Discuss and validate the 4 Returns Diagnosis with a broader stakeholder group. Which outcomes of the diagnosis stand out and why? Does it describe the current state of the landscape well? What questions arise from it? Which factors would be interesting to explore through follow-up conversations, research, or another way?
  • Organise a participatory session to prioritise focus areas based on the outcomes of the 4 Returns Diagnosis. Explore existing pilots or interventions, or design new ones.
  • Use the diagnosis as input for developing a Landscape Proposition or 4 Returns Landscape Plan. Guidance for both can be found at the 4 Returns Platform.

Good luck!

Referencing this tool: Commonland, Wetlands International and Landscape Finance Lab (2023), 4 Returns Diagnostic Tool (Commonland)

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