Challenges and Prospects for Scaling-up Ecological Restoration to Meet International Commitments: Colombia as a Case Study

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The field of ecological restoration (ER) is now challenged by the need to achieve recovery at large spatial scales. Such scaling up requires technological expertise, inclusiveness and clarity of goals, and correct governance schemes and monitoring protocols, which are often absent from ER projects in most countries. We analyze the case of Colombia by assessing the planning, governance, and monitoring practices of 119 ER projects, and discuss them in the context of scaling up efforts to meet international commitments. In a top-down approach, Colombia´s government is the biggest ER driver: setting up the necessary policy framework to promote ER, and initiating 64% and fully financing 78% of the projects in the country. However, projects lack depth in participatory governance and adequate planning and monitoring, limiting their potential for sustainability and knowledge sharing, both of which are necessary for scaling up. We propose three areas for improvement in order to scale-up and meet international ER targets in Colombia, as well as in other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, which are also in the process of consolidating a large-scale ER vision. The benefits of some of those improvements have already been demonstrated in Brazil.

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