069: Tree planting and panaceas with Forrest Fleischman

In this episode, Michael is joined by a new co-host of the podcast, Divya Gupta, to interview Forrest Fleischman, their friend and colleague currently working as a professor of forest resources at the University of Minnesota. Forrest talked to Michael and Divya about the two years he spent in India studying forest governance, his examination of joint forest management programs there, and his discovery that such projects seem to have often focused more on simplified metrics around tree planting and plantations than engaging with local communities. He also discussed his empirical examination of the policy known as forest landscape restoration, a supposedly transformative approach that generates win-wins for all involved. Forrest has become an important voice in this space, raising doubts about the ability of projects oriented primarily around tree plantings to solve local to global environmental issues.

Forrest’s website: https://forestry.umn.edu/people/forrest-fleischman


Fleischman, F. 2014. Why do Foresters Plant Trees? Testing Theories of Bureaucratic Decision-Making in Central India. World Development 62: 62-74.

Fleischman, F. et al. 2018. Pitfalls of Tree Planting Show Why We Need People-Centered Natural Climate Solutions. BioScience 70(11): 947–950.

Veldman, J.W. et al. 2019. Comment on The global tree restoration potential. Science 366 (6463).