Commonland:
Annual Report 2020

Bringing a holistic approach to landscape restoration
based on business cases

World’s first carbon-neutral plant-based milk

Sustainable businesses and conscious consumer are playing a vital role in the restoration of Western Australia. After its one calendar year journey, OatUp is now stocked at more than 40 retailers’ supermarkets and cafes and available through the platform Dirty Clean Food.

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Regreening the Baviaanskloof

The World Heritage Site Baviaanskloof is a unique and biodiverse hotspot in South Africa of 500,000 ha. After years of degradation, 30% of the landscape is now undergoing active restoration.

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Social returns for farmers in Spain.

Farmer-driven and 4 Returns company La Almendrehesa purchased 95 tons of high-quality, regenerative, organic almonds from 36 local farmers in Spain. Also, a second 4 Returns business for regenerative olive oil was launched: Hábitat.

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Increasing plant diversity through active seeding.

In 2020, the original nine pioneer farmers were joined by another 12. Together they sowed a variety of herb species on 100 hectares of grassland. Besides greatly improving biodiversity, pastures have become healthier – with better rooting and fewer open spaces, less vulnerable to dry and wet periods, and providing healthier cow feed.

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What are the 4 Returns?

Inspiration

Giving people hope and a sense of purpose.

Natural
Capital

Restoring biodiversity, soil, water quality and capturing carbon.

Financial
Capital

Realising long-term sustainable profit.

4 Returns impact

People exposed
to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration
Direct and indirect jobs created and supported
Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes
4 returns business cases identified or set up

People exposed
to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

4 returns business cases identified or set up

Global impact

(data from South Africa, Spain, Australia, The Netherlands)

  • 2020
  • 2019
x15
1,5 million
Total
21,5 million
+273
182
Total
455
+22,500
50,000
Total
72,500
+6
30
Total
36
  • 2020
  • 2019
100,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
1,990
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
12
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
  • Baviaanskloof
  • Langkloof
  • 1 : 100

10-year ambition:

10,000 people exposed and reached.

10 year ambition:

25 jobs provided and supported

10 year ambition:

32,000 hectares under improved management

10 year ambition:

Improved cost-benefit ratios for farmers active in the Baviaanskloof Devco and Langkloof Honeybush Co.

20 Million
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
> 30
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
8,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
2
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
  • Altiplano Estepario
  • 1 : 70

5-year ambition:

10,000+ people exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration, including 400+ community members & 200+ farmers & 10+ inspired initiatives.

5-year ambition:

10,000 ha under regenerative management farming and 20,000 ha positively influenced; 8,000 ha of corridors between 3 parks established reforested successful.

5-year ambition:

500+ AlVelAl members and 100+ farmers participate
in restoration through regenerative agriculture & natural land managements, 5+ partnerships and 30+ jobs supported or created.

5-year ambition:

Increased flow of funds (> 1,000,000 EUR) toward
4 returns initiatives and 5 investors committed.

950,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
12,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
3
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
  • Wheatbelt
  • 1 : 240

5-year ambition:

5,000 consumers and 10 farmers participate in new food and farm system.

5-year ambition:

Facilitate opportunities for regenerative entrepreneurship and skill development in target landscape - at least
20 trainings or farmer exchange events in collaboration with 5 long- term network partners.

5-year ambition:

Help facilitate ecosystem health regeneration, increased number of hectares under improved management (in WOA’s land portfolio and through collaboration).

5-year ambition:

Create a financially profitable 4Returns
company that can reinvest and diversify regenerative commercial ventures.

950,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
900
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
7
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
  • Peat Meadows
  • 1 : 20

5-year ambition:

1 million+ people inspired, 70 farmers participated in the initiative, 70 inspiring videos on regenerative practices.

5-year ambition:

1,000 ha under improved management practices, plus 250 ha of natural zones improved.

Global impact

People exposed
to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

x15
1,5 million
Total
21,5 million
  • 2020
  • 2019

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

+273
182
Total
455
  • 2020
  • 2019

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

+22,500
50,000
Total
72,500
  • 2020
  • 2019

4 returns business cases identified or set up

+6
30
Total
36
  • 2020
  • 2019

2020 South Africa

  • Baviaanskloof
  • Langkloof
  • 1 : 100

People exposed
to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

100,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
  • 2020
10-year ambition:

10,000 people exposed and reached.

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2020
10 year ambition:

25 jobs provided and supported

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

1,990
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
  • 2020
10 year ambition:

32,000 hectares under improved management

4 returns business cases identified or set up

12
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
10 year ambition:

Improved cost-benefit ratios for farmers active in the Baviaanskloof Devco and Langkloof Honeybush Co.

2020 Spain

  • Altiplano Estepario
  • 1 : 70

People exposed
to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

20 Million
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

10,000+ people exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration, including 400+ community members & 200+ farmers & 10+ inspired initiatives.

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

> 30
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

10,000 ha under regenerative management farming and 20,000 ha positively influenced; 8,000 ha of corridors between 3 parks established reforested successful.

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

8,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

500+ AlVelAl members and 100+ farmers participate
in restoration through regenerative agriculture & natural land managements, 5+ partnerships and 30+ jobs supported or created.

4 returns business cases identified or set up

2
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

Increased flow of funds (> 1,000,000 EUR) toward
4 returns initiatives and 5 investors committed.

2020 Australia

  • Wheatbelt
  • 1 : 240

People exposed
to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

950,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

5,000 consumers and 10 farmers participate in new food and farm system.

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

Facilitate opportunities for regenerative entrepreneurship and skill development in target landscape - at least
20 trainings or farmer exchange events in collaboration with 5 long- term network partners.

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

12,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

Help facilitate ecosystem health regeneration, increased number of hectares under improved management (in WOA’s land portfolio and through collaboration).

4 returns business cases identified or set up

3
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

Create a financially profitable 4Returns
company that can reinvest and diversify regenerative commercial ventures.

2020 The Netherlands

  • Peat Meadows
  • 1 : 20

People exposed
to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

950,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

1 million+ people inspired, 70 farmers participated in the initiative, 70 inspiring videos on regenerative practices.

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

1,000 ha under improved management practices, plus 250 ha of natural zones improved.

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

900
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
  • 2020

4 returns business cases identified or set up

7
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020

Landscape Developments

We are doers, not dreamers

Despite the pandemic, 2020 was also the year in which themes such as inequality and diversity moved up agendas worldwide. The extinction crisis - our life support system - received more attention. Business and investors increasingly agree that the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be seen in isolation from each other. New and fair economics based on restoring the ecological foundation is the critical factor that unites those.

Béla Jankovich read more

After years of building a proof of concept, our communication will focus on establishing a dialogue with relevant partners and stakeholders. We increased our ambitions on positioning, toolkit development, and financial modelling and developed a new landscape carbon strategy.

Willem Ferwerda read more

2020 was a good year for collaborations in various kinds of media. Commonland's work and the Loess Plateau's story was featured in Judith Schwartz's wonderful book "The Reindeer Chronicles". The Netflix film "Kiss the Ground" and the U.S. Public Broadcast System film "The Age of Nature - Awakening" also told the Loess Plateau's story and were broadcasted and streamed in 2020, reaching audiences worldwide.

John D. Liu read more

How we work and thrive together?

Commonland is a not-for-profit system change developer of large-scale ecosystem landscape restoration projects. By working on solutions at the landscape level, Commonland addresses biodiversity, climate change, regenerative agriculture and revitalising communities. Read more about how we work and thrive together, and our 2040 strategy.

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Commonland brings a holistic approach to landscape restoration. Our international team of specialists offers our partners a wide range of support tools, advice, guidance and global network to maximize the 4 Returns framework at scale. Read more about our key areas of activities.

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Sustainable Development Goals

The 4 Returns are addressing
all Sustainable Development Goals

Although the 4 Returns have a direct and/or indirect link with all SDG’s, there are eight SDG’s that align directly
with our 4 Returns, 3 Zones, 20 Years
approach.

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Besides SDG’s 13, 14 and 15, Natural Capital logically contributes to SDG 2, 5, 6, 8, and 12.

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SDG 17 ‘Building partnerships’ is the conditional key to make holistic landscape management successful as it creates local Landscape Partnerships (bottom-up) and global partnerships (topdown) of funders, investors, policy and science.

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We do this through the Theory U. A model from the Presencing Institute that supports in complex multi- stakeholder processes, by changing traditional thought patterns.

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Although the 4 Returns have a direct and/or indirect link with all SDG’s, there are eight SDG’s that align directly
with our 4 Returns, 3 Zones, 20 Years
approach.

read more

Besides SDG’s 13, 14 and 15, Natural Capital logically contributes to SDG 2, 5, 6, 8, and 12.

read more

SDG 17 ‘Building partnerships’ is the conditional key to make holistic landscape management successful as it creates local Landscape Partnerships (bottom-up) and global partnerships (topdown) of funders, investors, policy and science.

read more

We do this through the Theory U. A model from the Presencing Institute that supports in complex multi- stakeholder processes, by changing traditional thought patterns.

read more

Meet our team

Mariken van den Boogaard, Head of Marketing and Communication: “I do not think that economy and ecology need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, both words derive from the same Greek root, eco, meaning house. We aim to bring these different worlds together and create common grounds for common solutions via a common language. That inspires me.”

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Anouk Breukers, HR Manager: “I love working at Commonland because of our green mission and our contribution to make the world a greener place. Also, Commonland is an open-minded organisation with passionate and inspiring people: my colleagues.”

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Harma Rademaker, Landscape Manager: “I like the combination of working with local communities, restoring landscapes and building resilient livelihoods. It is rewarding and unique.“

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Thank you!

COVID-19 has dominated our world and our partnerships in 2020. But not one of our funders nor partners has let us down. On the contrary: cornerstone funders such as the COmON Foundation, the IKEA Foundation, and the Dutch Postcode Lottery have approached us pro-actively and confirmed their support. As have we – after all, we are in this for the long run. We need each other as we cannot do this alone. The challenges and the teamwork of our partners, funders, and colleagues gave us the strength to go forward and even accelerate. We deeply appreciate your support and involvement.

 

Thank you!

COmON foundation, IKEA Foundation, Dutch Postcode Lottery, Charlotte de Mevius, Gieskes Strijbis Foundation, Ecosia, Trees for All. 

LGT Philantrophy,  our Australian philanthropic partners and investors in Wide Open Agriculture, Almendrehesa, Habitat, Boeren van Amstel, Aardpeer, the Dutch Physical Environment Consultative Council of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (OFL), Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Province of North Brabant, Patagonia.

 

International Union for Conservation of Nature | Commission on Ecosystem Management (IUCN CEM), Presencing Institute, Ashoka, Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), Wageningen University, Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Peace Parks Foundation, Red Cross, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Global Landscape Forum, Wetlands International, WWF Landscape Finance Lab and 1T.org (World Economic Forum).

 

Everyone at our 4 Returns landscape partners: Grounded, Living Lands, Baviaanskloof DEVCO, Langkloof Honeybush CO, AlVelAl, La Almendrehesa, Habitat, Wide Open Agriculture, RegenWA, The University of Australia’s Centre for Social Impact, Sustain: the Australian Food Network, The Regional Regeneration Alliance, Dirty Clean Food, Wij.land, the Dutch Society for Nature Conservation (Natuurmonumenten), members of For Tomorrow’s Harvest, Samerth, Foundation for Ecological Security  and TNC (India), Basecamp Explorer Foundation (BEF) and the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA), The Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) and the Simalaha Community Conservancy (SCC), LEOS (Haiti), Netherlands and Philippines Red Cross, Green Releaf (Philippines).  

 

We are proud to be partner of the 1000 Landscapes for a Billion People initiative and thank our core-partners for their trust and commitment: Eco Agriculture Partners, Rainforest Alliance, Conservation International, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WWF Landscape Finance Lab and Tech Matters.