Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) has recently received broad political support, e.g., under the Bonn Challenge. However, although the concept promises quadruple wins for humans, biodiversity as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation, it remains heavily underutilized in practice. Drawing on a social constructivist reading and a survey in different developing and developed countries, we elaborate on varying existing narratives about FLR at global and country level. Overall, we find that FLR understandings in different countries strongly resonate with the globally pursued idea of enhancing ecological and human well-being. In more detail, however, rural development and climate mitigation oriented motives are prioritized over aspects of species conservation or adaptation. Globally, strong emphasis is placed on collaborative processes empowering local actors. At country level, by contrast, these ideas regarding greater local authority are complemented with a techno-managerial notion of government control. Considering the potential power struggles that could be evoked from such dialectic expectations, we see it as a primary responsibility for global FLR processes to fully embrace the political dimension of FLR and to support conflict resolution and adaptive learning processes.
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