Restoration Social Science: Understanding how and why people restore landscapes, and what the impacts of that restoration is on human well being.
Restoration is emerging as a global priority, as exemplified in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the Bonn Challenge to restore 350 Mha by 2030, and a wide variety of regional, national, and private efforts. As described in these documents, restoration is primarily conceived as an ecological process, in which ecosystems are restored to a more functional or desirable state through ecological processes, and there is a well developed science of restoration ecology to inform these efforts. However most restoration seeks to undo damage to ecosystems caused by people, most restoration efforts involve people doing things, and restoration is often sold as being beneficial to people. Thus a social science of restoration is needed to make sure restoration achieves its goals, however, no such collected body of knowledge exists.

In this talk I will propose 3 key questions which restoration social science must answer: (1) What are the impacts of restoration on people? (2) How do human actions influence restoration outcomes? (3) Why has restoration emerged as a global priority now? I will provide preliminary answers to these questions which draw on my field research in India. These results suggest that the outcomes of restoration depend on who makes decisions about the restoration program, and as such can vary from beneficial to harmful to people. They also suggest that a major impetus for the popularity of restoration today is that restoration can be an effective way to greenwash environmentally harmful activities.

Forrest Fleischman is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Department of Forest Resources, and a visiting researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB). His research examines the intersection of scientific knowledge, government expertise, and civic engagement in policy-making and implementation, as well as the outcomes of resulting policies, particularly in human-created ecosystems, such as restored, planted, and urban forests.

The Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery and Biodiversity Network are interested in promoting a wide variety of views and opinions on nature recovery from researchers and practitioners.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this lecture are those of the author alone, they do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery/Biodiversity Network, or its researchers.
Date: 26 April 2024, 16:15 (Friday, 1st week, Trinity 2024)
Venue: Dyson Perrins Building, off South Parks Road OX1 3QY
Venue Details: main lecture theatre
Speaker: Forrest Fleischman (University of Minnesota,)
Organising department: Environmental Change Institute
Organisers: Carlyn Samuel (University of Oxford), Jane Applegarth (University of Oxford, Oxford University Centre for the Environment)
Host: Professor Yadvinder Malhi (University of Oxford)
Part of: Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery and the Biodiversity Network seminar series
Booking required?: Required
Booking url:
Audience: Members of the University only
Editor: Carlyn Samuel