The evolution of forest restoration in India: The journey from precolonial to India's 75th year of Independence

Anirban Roy, Forrest Fleischman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper examines the history of forest restoration in India. While contemporary literature often emphasizes the novelty of forest restoration programmes as exemplified in large-scale global pledges such as the Bonn Challenge or the Trillion Trees initiative, we show that forest restoration has thousands of years of history in India. Furthermore, this history plays an important role in shaping current restoration efforts, in ways that often undermine restoration goals. We find four themes in this history: the definitions of forests changed as the national administration metamorphosed, the philosophy behind the afforestation practices transitioned from commercial to a focus on forest cover that still underemphasizes ecological and subsistence values of forests, the involvement of forest-dependent people in forest restoration has been limited by government policies through much of this period, and current restoration practice draws more from the history of commercial timber production than from contemporary restoration science. Drawing on these insights, we argue that restoration programmes need to be reconsidered in India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1527-1540
Number of pages14
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Technical Research Council (CONICET) under Grant PIP 2013-2015 GI, 11220120100202CO; and Fundación Articular, Quilmes, Argentina.

Funding Information:
Funding: this work was supported by the Argentinean National Scientific and

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Land Degradation & Development published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • India
  • afforestation
  • colonial
  • forest restoration
  • postcolonial
  • precolonial


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