The restoration of ecosystems to stop biodiversity losses in agricultural landscapes has high priority in many regionsof the world. It does not take place in a vacuum but is nested in a socio-historical and agro-political context. Austria andWestern Australia (WA) are examples of old and newly impacted agricultural environments, and these are used to examinetwo contrasting agro-political and agro-economic frameworks within which ecological restoration currently operates. WA ischaracterised by ancient, nutrient-impoverished, and degraded agricultural landscapes that have been under cultivation forsome 100 years and support a low density rural population. In Austria agriculture has been practised for some 7000 years andthe European Union (EU) and its extensive funding system largely determine agro-political policies.The paper concludes that: (1) differences in agro-political priorities have resulted in diverging agro-economic systemswhere producers are heavily subsidised (EU) or largely unsubsidised (WA); (2) diverging agro-political priorities result fromdifferences in terms of land degradation; demographic characteristics, and duration of respective agriculture; (3) WA failedto develop a financial strategy aimed at ecological restoration for biodiversity conservation while Austria benefits from aEU-driven subsidy system to maintain biodiversity conservation; (4) the Landcare movement plays a significant role in therestoration of biodiversity in WA, but is largely absent in the EU; (5) different environmental and social histories demanddifferent approaches to improve the economic frameworks within which ecological restoration is conducted in each region. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.