A business approach to sustainable landscape restoration


Self-paced e-learning

Other Partner

Offered by

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Course details

Visit course page
self-paced course, 7 weeks
2-3 hours per week

Course summary

The objective of this course is to educate you about the role of business in landscape management and restoration and, vice versa, about the role of healthy landscapes for sustainable businesses.

About this course

Integrated landscape management and large-scale landscape restoration should be in every company’s business strategy because in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goal on Land Degradation Neutrality (SDG Number 15.3) scaling up and acceleration of business-driven landscape restoration is urgently needed. This requires business professionals with a vision, the right knowledge and skills. “A business approach to sustainable landscape restoration” is a free online course that can be followed on the Coursera platform. This MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) aims to train the next generation of business professionals and developers to acknowledge business’ interdependency with healthy landscapes and understand the value of ecosystem resources. It offers comprehensive knowledge of landscape degradation and landscape restoration from both the perspective of natural science and from an economics and business administration perspective. Participants are introduced to ecosystem functions, degradation and restoration, the economics of land degradation, as well as useful business tools to carry out landscape restoration with multiple returns. The MOOC concludes with a real-life business case designed to deepen participants’ understanding of the theories and frameworks learned during the course, as well as practicing application of the tools and methods. This MOOC is first of a kind in that it connects economy and ecology in relation to landscape restoration. This course is developed by ENABLE – which stands for European Network for Advancement of Business and Landscape Education, led by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. Other partners: Commonland, United Nations University, Land Restoration Training Programme (UNU-LRT), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC-CEBAS), Nova SBE. ENABLE was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

Target audience

Business and environmental professionals who are aware of the importance of bridging economy and ecology, as well as students who want to gain a broader and integrated perspective on landscape restoration. Conservationists who would like to know more about business models and partnerships.

Learning objectives

Learning Objectives

Week 1  – Gentle Introduction

After this module, students should be able to:
          Understand the importance of landscapes and the scale of degradation in the world
          Identify the main causes of landscape degradation
          Explain why it is important to prevent land degradation and reverse it by land restoration
          Understand Land Degradation Neutrality
          Discuss the need to address landscape degradation
          Explain the urgency of scaling solutions for landscape degradation
          Interpret land use change and land degradation in the context of the so-called planetary boundaries
          Demonstrate the potential for large-scale landscape restoration
          Distinguish the incentives for business to engage in integrated land management and large-scale landscape restoration
          Identify the role that the private sector can play
          Understand the 4-returns approach
          Apply the 4-returns approach in practice

Week 2 – Biology of landscapes

After this module, students should be able to:
          Learn about ecosystems and the services they provide
          Understand the importance of ecosystems for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals
          Explain what landscape degradation, how it affects ecosystem services and resilience
          Describe the main processes, signs, and drivers of landscape degradation
          Explain the concepts of land potential and how it affects what can be achieved on the land
          Recognize how land potential and land condition can be used to support land management decisions
          Recognize the signs in the landscape that determine land condition
          Explain how land condition influences the resilience of ecosystems to recover from degradation
          Explain what ecological restoration is
          What drives restoration activities
          Recognize important types of interventions to facilitate recovery of degraded ecosystems, their role, and the conditions they apply to
          Become aware of the main steps in planning, implementation, and monitoring of restoration projects

 Week 3

After this module, students should be able to:
          Understand how the economic value of land is assessed
          Appreciate the importance of sustainable land use for business by understanding the global costs of landscape degradation and the benefits from integrated landscape management
          Categorise ecosystem services
          Understand the Total Economic Value framework select the most appropriate economic valuation method
          Identify the business risk of landscape degradation
          Assess rewarding opportunities for sustainable business
          Explore tools used by companies to understand and value their impact and dependency on ecosystem services.
          Understand and discuss the economics of land management from a holistic perspective
          Explain the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative 6+1 steps methodological approach
          Understand the different components of cost-benefit analysis
          Outline the categories of costs and benefits being assessed with this method
          Exemplify alternative scenarios
          Discuss timeframe for analysis, indicators of economic viability, and how to test the validity of results

Week 4

After this module, students should be able to:
          Explain what roles professionals can play
          Discuss the different skills involved in landscape restoration projects
          Describe the five phases of a landscape restoration project
          Identify different interventions that can be used for landscape restoration
          Identify the 4-returns framework in a real-life project
          Identify and describe the roles of team members in a restoration project

Week 5

After this module, students should be able to:
          Understand what wicked problems are
          Distinguish among simple, complex, and wicked problems
          Identify wicked problems by the characteristics that define them
          Assess the degrees of wickedness of a wicked problem
          Understand why landscape degradation can be seen as a wicked problem
          Approach landscape degradation as a wicked problem
          Understand the partnerships concept
          Identify the success factors and challenges that make or break a partnership
          Understand what type of partnership belongs to what type of problem
          Distinguish between so-called coalition of the willing and coalition of the needed
          Understand how to manage a complex configuration of partners based on strategic fit, strategic alignment, and strategic portfolio management.

Week 6

After this module, students should be able to:
          Understand what business models are
          Develop and analyse business models using the business model canvas tool
          Discuss how partnerships can be integrated into a business model
          Apply the private-public partnership (PPP) canvas
          Understand the sustainable business model innovation process
          Recognize the organisational practices that are required to develop your own sustainable business model innovation process.
          Recognize the type of organisational practices that are required to lead a business model from the design canvas to full launch.

Week 7
After this module, students should be able to:
          Identity the concepts and theories of the course in a real-life case
          Apply the tools and methods introduced in the course to a real-life case
          Develop a holistic solution for a real-life landscape restoration project