Natural resource management is a cross-sectoral topic, as reflected by its inclusion in several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., SDGs 2, 6, 12, 15). In the study area on Bangka Island, Indonesia, agriculture is a pillar of local food security and livelihoods, making restoration of degraded lands also a local issue. The present study aims at restoring degraded land after tin mining and at restoring the natural soil base rendering it more suitable for agriculture. We use co-experimentation with citizens as a tool to develop options for re-habilitation at a pilot scale. The recruitment process in this study was reversed insofar as local citizens were at the origin of the project idea. Consequently, buy-in was high among local stakeholders. This set to increase the probability of successfully scaling up effective and actionable practices that were developed during co-experimentation at both local and regional levels. Co-experimentation provided a platform for exchange between local citizens and scientists. Citizens did not need to learn new skills to be able to participate in the scientific process and could autonomously evaluate results. We see involvement of citizens in this type of scientific projects not only as feasible, but as rewarding for all involved partners and as beneficial for the project outcomes. In light of the call for partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we can only recommend investing in communication and relationship building to work together on better solutions to the challenges we face.
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