The 4 Returns Guidebook

This guidebook takes you on the journey of 4 Returns landscape restoration. Explore each step of the process, from initiation to impact....

The hands-on guide for the 4 Returns approach to holistic landscape regeneration

Over the course of the past seven years at Commonland, together with our partners we have tested and developed our approach to holistic, large-scale landscape restoration based on sustainable business cases. During those years, we have gained many insights into what works in certain contexts and what does not. Although we recognise that in landscape restoration there is no one-size-fits-all, many lessons apply more universally. By sharing this knowledge, we hope to help you move faster in your initiative and create a bigger impact as a community.

There is no blueprint approach guaranteed for success. This is why we call this a ‘guidebook’ rather than a ‘manual’. Determine for yourself if these guidelines will work in your context, and how you can adapt them to make them work for you.

Each module covers a step in the process. It presents best practices in a high-level, easy overview. For a higher level of detail and more practical pointers, a host or tools, videos, stories and other resources are connected to the modules to help you dive deeper and apply the knowledge in practice. You can go through the modules one by one or dive right into those most relevant to you.

1. Introduction to 4 Returns thinking

What is the 4 Returns framework, and what do we mean with the 5 elements, 4 Returns and 3 zones? What are key principles to […]...

meta meta

2. Selecting and defining the landscape

This module will help you select and define the boundaries of your landscape. Whether you have or have not already selected your landscape, it will […]...

meta meta

3. Understanding the landscape

Every landscape has its unique history and state, including a.o. its people, politics, economy. ecology, and climate. This module will teach you how to investigate and […]...

meta meta

4. Getting started

Time to put words into action. Where do you start? How do you build a coalition of likeminded organisations?  This document gives some pointers on […]...

meta meta

5. Creating a landscape plan

A landscape plan is the landscape’s strategy and plan for the coming 20 years. It includes an identification of the 3 zones and planned activities […]...

meta meta

6. Monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL)

MEL is a vital part of successful landscape restoration initiatives. Monitoring involves collecting data, evaluation is an assessment of these data, and learning is using […]...

meta meta

7. Working in a local team

Local ownership of a landscape initiative is key to sustainable solutions. So, whether the initiative is convened by an external organisation or not, we believe […]...

meta meta

8. Regenerative business as a driver for landscape restoration

In order for restoration of degraded lands around the world to accelerate, we need the power of business to transform toward more regenerative business cases […]...

meta meta

9. Inspiring local communities

A healthy landscape provides us with food, resources, fresh air, well-being and a stable climate. Yet, many people are disconnected from their landscape. How can […]...

meta meta

10. Fund mobilisation for landscape restoration

Mobilizing different funding streams is essential to allow 4 returns landscape initiatives to grow, implement landscape-level interventions and develop 4 returns business cases. In this […]...

meta meta

11. Connecting to a global movement

This module will help you tell your landscape’s stories to inspire, influence, and connect to the world outside of your landscape: including the restoration movement, […]...

meta meta

Tag a friend?