Select Page

Member of the r3.0 Advocation Partner Program

Commonlands systemic model to restore large ecosystems with business model is called four returns, three zones, twenty years (‘4 returns’), and is meant as an alternative for our current economic model of maximization of Return on Investment per hectare. The current model has led to worldwide degradation of at least 2 billion hectares (twice the size of the US). Degradation is connected to the biodiversity extinction crisis, climate change, food production, health and migration. Commonland started with a scientific publication introducing ‘4 returns, 3 zones, 20 years’, a holistic and practical business framework that uses a common language, is evidence based – using technology and social stakeholder management tools with the aim to establish Landscape Restoration Partnerships between people living on the land, companies, investors, governments and business schools, to restore degraded ecosystems that gives multiple returns, while teaching practical lessons and reaching international restoration targets.
In 2013 Commonland was founded by the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (network of ecological scientists under the IUCN), the Rotterdam School of Management of the Erasmus University and a private foundation. In Commonland provides long term support to local people to restore degraded landscapes and ecosystems, generating inspirational, social, natural, and sustainable financial returns: the 4 returns framework. It is a holistic people oriented ‘ecosystem business canvas model’, and connects three landscape zones: natural, combined and economic zones during a time frame of minimal one generation (20 years). Our goal is to deliver those 4 returns by realizing large-scale landscape restoration projects and business cases together with our partners: local farmers, land-users, experts, investors and governments. The last five years we have focused in the field on a ‘proof of concept’ track record in four large landscapes in general more than 0,5m ha (South Africa, Spain, Australia, Netherlands). Since 2017 we help other implementing parties in seven other countries. In 2018 in Australia we were able to bring a 4 returns company to the Australian Stock Exchange (see 2 pager attached). We are working in close cooperation with the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and many other experts, but our focus is on the Landscape Restoration Partnerships with farmers, landowners, local authorities, conservationists and entrepreneurs, etc. 
Besides establishing Landscape Restoration Partnerships, Commonland also shares its lessons learned with the business students community
via MOOCs (online courses) as they are the leaders of the future:
For more background information see also the Royal Address that was held for the Dutch Parliament in 2017. Our ambition is that the 4 returns becomes the new norm in 2030 as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Willem Ferwerda

Willem Ferwerda


“We know that we need to restore the ecology of our planet, so transforming mindsets of farmers, experts, investors and authorities, all of us, is critical. That is why the Reporting 3.0 and  mplementing Thriveable Transformation’ is well chosen. As an Advocation Partner I am looking forward to share our experiences on how transforming people can lead to massively turn degraded landscapes into thriving ecosystems and communities.”



Advocation Partner contact: Willem Ferwerda