Regeneration of a tissue damaged by injury represents a physiological response for organ recovery1-3. Although this regeneration process is conserved across multicellular taxa, plants appear to display extremely high regenerative capacities, a feature widely used in tissue culture for clonal propagation and grafting4,5. Regenerated cells arise predominantly from pre-existing populations of division-competent cells6,7; however, the mechanisms by which these cells are triggered to divide in response to injury remain largely elusive8. Here, we demonstrate that the heterodimeric transcription factor complex ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR115 (ERF115)-PHYTOCHROME A SIGNAL TRANSDUCTION1 (PAT1) sustains meristem function by promoting cell renewal after stem cell loss. High-resolution time-lapse imaging revealed that cell death promotes ERF115 activity in cells that are in direct contact with damaged cells, triggering divisions that replenish the collapsed stem cells. Correspondingly, the ERF115-PAT1 complex plays an important role in full stem cell niche recovery upon root tip excision, whereas its ectopic expression triggers neoplastic growth, correlated with activation of the putative target gene WOUND INDUCED DEDIFFERENTIATION1 (WIND1)9. We conclude that the ERF115-PAT1 complex accounts for the high regenerative potential of plants, granting them the ability to efficiently replace damaged cells with new ones.