Over the past several decades, international and national agencies and organizations have become increasingly aware of the problems of deforestation and desertification in the developing world. Consequently, they have mobilized interest and resources to combat these threats to sustainable economic development through a new activity -- the organized planting of trees for people. Reforestation has proven to be difficult, however, because most arable land is already in use for agriculture and because uncertainties exist over land and tree tenure. With forestry institutions weak and ineffective in many developing countries, international organizations have assumed the leadership role in promoting this crucial task.
In Planting Trees in the Developing World, Steven R. Brechin draws upon organizational sociology to explain why three international organizations -- the World Bank, the Forestry Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization, and CARE-USA -- performed so differently while promoting rural development forestry projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Focusing on the period from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, Brechin argues that the unique organizational nature of each agency -- shaped by internal characteristics as well as external pressures -- influenced its ability to promote certain kinds of development programs.