Global initiatives to promote large-scale forest landscape restoration (FLR) require adaptive approaches consistent with locally relevant models of land use, management, ownership and economic incentives. The Phewa Lake watershed was subject to severe degradation leading to high siltation of the lake. Forests were restored to this hilly and mountainous landscape as a result of four-decades of conservation and communitybased forestry (CBF) efforts. This study assessed the process and key motivating factors for community-based forest landscape restoration. The main finding is that community participation, promoted by Nepal's policy of decentralised forest management, was a key motivating factor for the success of forest landscape restoration and increased local ownership of restoration efforts. Promotion of natural forest regeneration through CBF was an effective landscape conservation method compared to the government-led investments in structural engineering. The CBF approach can make a significant contribution to forest restoration and achieving national and international restoration targets.