Reforestation Strategies Amid Social Instability: Lessons from Afghanistan

Reforestation Strategies Amid Social Instability: Lessons from Afghanistan


This study evaluates recent reforestation programs in Afghanistan in anticipation of larger scale programs needed to address watershed-scale degradation.

Research Goals & Methods

It surveys reforestation programs in rural upper watershed areas in Afghanistan in order to provide insight for similar problems in insecure regions elsewhere, especially where reforestation may help reverse degradation and assist with social stabilization efforts.

Conclusions & Takeaways

The most popular programs facilitate cash-for-work to conduct hillside terracing, check dam construction and tree planting for nut production, fuel wood, timber, dune stabilization, and erosion abatement. The interest in programs varies due to accessibility, security and local objectives, and is impacted by uncertain land tenure and use rights, weak local environmental management capacity, and a focus on agricultural production to meet immediate needs of local people. Limitations include unreliable security, a lack of high quality tree planting stock, and limited technical knowledge and coordination among government agencies.

This study suggests that a good place in similarly unstable areas is to address the technical limitations of conservation tree nursery production may be a good start, and that passive reforestation centered on range use and supplemental feeding might be the greatest untapped opportunity for meaningful restoration and reforestation efforts.


Groninger JW. Reforestation Strategies Amid Social Instability: Lessons from Afghanistan. Environmental Management. 2012;49:833–845. doi:10.1007/s00267-012-9817-6.


  • Department of Forestry, Southern Illinois University