The Forest Underground: Hope for a Planet in Crisis

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Right Livelihood Award 2018 Stockholm. Photo: Wolfgang Schmidt

How do you regreen millions of hectares of land without planting a single tree?

World-renowned agronomist Tony Rinaudo knows the answer lies at the grass roots—or at the tree roots—as much as with farmers and communities. Tony shares his insights and inspiring life story in his autobiography The Forest Underground: Hope for a Planet in Crisis, named 2022 Australian Christian Book of the Year.

In his 17 years in Niger, Tony, from Myrtleford in Victoria, discovered an embarrassingly simple and affordable method of regreening land by reviving damaged trees rather than planting new ones. It’s a technique that not only alleviates poverty and soaks up carbon, but also costs almost 36 times less than planting trees from scratch.

This is not some green fantasy. Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) has, from small beginnings, already regreened more than 18 million hectares in 27 countries, reduced our carbon footprint and transformed millions of lives and livelihoods.

The Forest Underground offers tangible hope for climate change, as well as a deeply moving account of one man’s faith-journey. In a seemingly hopeless crisis, this is the good-news story that will move hearts and hands to care for the planet.

Photo: Silas Koch/World Vision

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FMNR is probably the largest positive environmental transformation in the Sahel and, perhaps, in all of Africa.

Chris Reij, Sustainable Land Management Specialist at the World Resources Institute


For years I have longed to see this biography written. And it lives up to my every hope.

Tim Costello, CEO World Vision Australia 2004–2016


Tony Rinaudo presents practical solutions to counter desertification, famine and despair.

Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation


No research program—no matter how well funded—would have come up with this idea, because it expertly combines the subtleties of location-specific tree selection with farmer-specific opportunities and constraints.

Richard Stirzaker, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency


This is a gift from Almighty God. Everywhere you visit you bring life and joy.

Yamdaan Zimbil Longmoate, Chief of Yamenga, Ghana


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