New, global initiatives to restore forest landscapes present an unparalleled opportunity to reverse deforestation and forest degradation. Participatory monitoring could play a crucial role in providing accountability, generating local buy in, and catalyzing learning in monitoring systems that need scalability and adaptability to a range of local sites. We synthesized current knowledge from literature searches and interviews to provide lessons for the development of a scalable, multisite participatory monitoring system. Studies show that local people can collect accurate data on forest change, drivers of change, threats to reforestation, and biophysical and socioeconomic impacts that remote sensing cannot. They can do this at one-third the cost of professionals. Successful participatory monitoring systems collect information on a few simple indicators, respond to local priorities, provide appropriate incentives for participation, catalyze learning and decision making based on frequent analyses and multilevel interactions with other stakeholders. Participatory monitoring could provide a framework for linking global, national, and local needs, aspirations, and capacities for forest restoration.