"Hanken investigates how tree planting affects man and nature"

The TreesForDev project was recently featured in the Swedish language publication Landsbygdens Folk.

"Hanken investigates how tree planting affects man and nature"

This a Google Translate assisted English language version of the Swedish language story that appeared in Landsbygdens folk on 03 November, 2023

To see the original story in Swedish, please the publication using this link. 

Planting trees is a popular and simple way to try to save the climate. But is it really as effective and environmentally friendly as many people think? What political forces are behind and what social consequences does tree planting have in different countries and cultures?

That is what researcher Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes at the Swedish School of Business and Economics will find out together with researchers from the University of Helsinki, among others. The research project has been granted one million euros by the Academy of Finland and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hanken's share in the project TreesForDev (The socio-ecological and politico-economic dynamics of ecological restoration through tree planting schemes in the global South) is 400,000 euros. The project team includes researchers from Finland, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Brazil. The project runs until 31 December 2026.

- Tree planting initiatives are marketed with "one size fits all", but the same ecological restoration methods do not work everywhere when it comes to ecology, different cultures and local populations, notes Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes, who is assistant professor of business management and organization at Hanken.

The project consortium is led by Hanken and the University of Helsinki is responsible for part of the project under the leadership of Markus Kröger, professor of Global Development Studies.

The role and knowledge of the local population is a central part of the project.

- It has happened, for example, that trees have been planted in places that were previously used as grazing and cultivation land by the local population, and there are cases where the local population has had to give up their land for tree planting projects, says Ehrnström-Fuentes.

At the same time, she points out that there are many good examples where tree plantings have promoted the climate and created a better standard of living.

- Thanks to various collaborative projects with the local population, more opportunities have been created for the local people to grow their own food and make a living as the trees help to restore the balance in nature.

The research project will examine on a global level how tree planting initiatives have spread around the world, what political driving forces are behind it and who is financing the projects.

The researchers will look at what kind of funding goes to such projects from Finland and other European countries.

- The goal of the project is to be able to guide various actors regarding where and how we should plant trees so that it is right, both ecologically and ethically. We also want to investigate how a driving force is created that comes from within the villages, so that we can achieve the global sustainability goals from a grassroots level.