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Harry Fischer

Harry Fischer
Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer, Department of Urban and Rural Development


My research explores the intersection between environmental governance, rural development, and democratic politics in the developing world, with a focus on India and Nepal.


I have ongoing research projects on:

- social dimensions of forest & landscape restoration

- biodiversity, carbon, and human well-being in forested landscapes

- decentralization, local democracy, and rural development

- rural livelihoods, climate adaptation, and social vulnerability


Currently, I am involved in the following funded projects:

Recently announced: "Can community forest governance improve rural prosperity and well-being from forest restoration?" funded by FORMAS, 2023-2026 (4 million Swedish Kronor, €400,000) Fischer as lead investigator.

Recently announced: Building synergies between biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and rural prosperity through community forest governance” funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), 2023-2026 (4.5 million Swedish Kronor, €450,000) Fischer as lead investigator.

Institutional networks and self-organized adaptation: Tracing the democratic architectures of climate response” funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), 2019-2021 (5.6 million Swedish Kronor, €560,000) Fischer as lead investigator.

"Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Forest Resource Use by Rural Communities in India" FORMAS (Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development) Urgent Grant (2020-21): 1.2 million Swedish Kronor (€120,000) Fischer as lead investigator.

Creating evidence for forest based resilience during COVID-19” FORMAS (Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development) Special Call ‘Societal effects and opportunities for transition after Covid-19’ (2020-21): 1 million Swedish Kronor (€100,000) Fischer as lead investigator.

"Impacts of Afforestation on Sustainable Rural Livelihoods in India" funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA, 2017-20 ($750,000), project lead Forrest Fleischman, University of Minnesota

“How forest management, disturbance and restoration affect below-ground diversity and ecosystem functioning”.  FORMAS (Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development) (2021-2024): 4 million Swedish Kronor (€400,000). Project led by Mohammad Bahram, Department of Ecology, SLU.

“Planning plantations: Past learning, toward triple wins in carbon, biodiversity and livelihoods” US Agency for International Development (USAID) (2019-2021), Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) grant, USD $79,000. Project led by Rajesh Thadani & Vishal Singh (Centre for Ecology Development and Research, CEDAR, Dehradun India) and Forrest Fleischman (U. of Minnesota, USA).


To read more about my research past and present, please visit my personal website



Previous appointments:

Postdoctoral Fellow, New Generation Network (NGN), Australia India Institute, joint affiliation with University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, 2016-2019.

Research Fellow for the “Sentinel Landscapes” research project, led by Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), 2016.

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India to work with the Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network (RRAN), 2015-2016.



PhD, Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science (GIS). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 2014. Dissertation: Reframing citizenship by decentralizing development under India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

MA, Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2010. Thesis: Protesting Conservation by Protecting the Environment: A case study from the Indian Himalayas. 

Maryville University, St. Louis, Missouri - Bachelor of Fine Arts (painting and photography), summa cum laude, 2006.


Selected publications

Fischer, Harry, Ashwini Chhatre, Apurva Duddu, Nabin Pradhan, and Arun Agrawal. 2023. Community forest governance and synergies among carbon, biodiversity and livelihoods. Nature Climate Change. 

Khatri, Dil, Kristina Marquardt, Harry Fischer, Sanjaya Khatri, Devanshi Singh and Dilli Prasad Poudel. 2023. Why is farming important for rural livelihood security in the Global South? COVID-19 and changing rural livelihoods in Nepal’s mid-hills. Frontiers in Human Dynamics 5:1143700. 

Fleischman, Forrest, Eric Coleman, Harry Fischer, Prakash Kashwan, Marion Pfeifer,Vijay Ramprasad, Claudia Rodriguez Solorzano, Joseph Veldman. Forthcoming. Ecosystem Restoration priorities must be informed by people on the margins. Nature.

Bill Schultz, Dan Brockington, Eric A. Coleman, Ida N. S. Djenontin, Harry Fischer, Forrest Fleischman, Prakash Kashwan, Kristina Marquardt, Marion Pfeifer, Rose Pritchard, Vijay Ramprasad. 2022. Recognizing the equity implications of restoration priority maps. Environmental Research Letters 17: 114019.

Nichols, Carly, Falak Jalali, and Harry W. Fischer. 2022. “Corona warriors”? Experiences of India's community health workers (ASHAs) in India's COVID-19 response. Political Geography.

Coleman, E., Schultz, W., Ramprasad, V.,  Fischer, H., Rana, P., Filippi, A., Güneralp, B., Ma, A., Rodriguez Solorzano, C., Guleria, V., Rana, R., Fleischman, F. 2021. Limited effects of tree planting on forest canopy cover and rural livelihoods in Northern India. Nature Sustainability

Fischer, Harry, Ashwini Chhatre, Sripad Devalkar, and Milind Sohoni. 2021. Institutions, social networks, and self-organized adaptation to climate change. Environmental Research Letters.

Saxena, Alark, Anwesha Dutta, Harry Fischer, Alder Keleman, and Patrick Jantz, 2021. The Role of Forests in a “Green Recovery” from the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond. Forest Policy and Economics 131: 102550.

Fischer, Harry. 2021. Decentralization and the governance of climate adaptation: Situating community-based planning within broader trajectories of political transformation. World Development.

Dutta, A., Allen, J., Worsdell, T., Duffy, R., Kumar, K., Rai, N., Fischer, H., Shimray, G., Sherpa, P., 2021. Re-thinking the Global Safety Net: Local leadership in Global Conservation. Science Advances.

Gupta, Divya, Harry Fischer, Suchita Shrestha, Syed Shoaib Ali, Ashwini Chhatre, Kamal Devkota, Dil Khatri, Pushpendra Rana. 2021. Dark and bright spots in the shadow of the pandemic: Rural livelihoods, social vulnerability, and local governance in India and Nepal. World Development.

Fleischman, Forrest, Basant, S., Fischer, H., Gupta, D., Garcia-Lopez, G., Kashwan, P., Powers, J., Ramprasad, V., Rana, P., Rastogi, A., Rodriguez Solorzano, C., Schmitz, M. 2021. How politics shapes the outcomes of forest carbon finance. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.

Dutta, Anwesha, and Harry Fischer. 2021. The local governance of Covid-19: Disease prevention and social security in rural India. World Development.

Fleischman, F., Basant, S., Chhatre, A., Coleman, E,. Fischer, H., Gupta, D., Güneralp, B., Kashwan, P., Khatri, D., Muscarella, B., Powers., J., Ramprasad, V., Rana, P., Rodriguez Solorzano, C. Veldman, J. 2020. Pitfalls of tree planting show why we need people-centered natural climate solutions. Bioscience 70(11): 947–950.

Nichols, Carly, Falak Jalili, Syed Shoaib Ali, Divya Gupta, Suchita Shrestha, and Harry Fischer. 2020. The gendered impacts of COVID-19 amidst agrarian distress: Opportunities for comprehensive policy response in agrarian South Asia. Politics and Gender.

Fischer, Harry. 2020. Policy innovations for pro-poor climate support: Social protection, small-scale infrastructure, and active citizenship under India’s MGNREGA. Climate and Development 12(8): 689-702.

Fischer, Harry, and Syed Shoaib Ali. 2019. Reshaping the public domain: Decentralization, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), and trajectories of local democracy in rural India. World Development 120: 147-158. 

Balls, Jonathan and Harry Fischer. 2019. Electricity-centered clientelism and the contradictions of private solar micro-grids in India. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 109(2): 465-475. To be reprinted in "Environmental Governance in a Populist/Authoritarian Era", edited James McCarthy, 2020, Routledge. 

Fischer, Harry. 2017. Harnessing the state: social transformation, infrastructural development, and the changing governance of water systems in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 107(2): 480-489.

Fischer, Harry. 2016. Beyond participation and accountability: Theorizing representation in local democracy. World Development 86: 111–122.

Fischer, Harry, and Ashwini Chhatre. 2016. Assets, livelihoods, and the ‘profile approach’ for analysis of differentiated social vulnerability in the context of climate change. Environment and Planning A 48(4): 789-807.

Fischer, Harry, N. L. Narasimha Reddy, and M.L Sanyasi Rao. 2016. Can more drought resistant crops promote more climate secure agriculture? Prospects and challenges of millet cultivation in Ananthapur, Andhra Pradesh. World Development Perspectives 2: 5-10. 

Fischer, Harry, and Ashwini Chhatre. 2013. Environmental Citizenship, Gender, and the Emergence of a New Conservation Politics. Geoforum 50: 10-19.

Persha, Lauren, Harry Fischer, Ashwini Chhatre, Arun Agrawal, and Catherine Benson. 2010. Biodiversity conservation and livelihoods in human-dominated resource-governance regimes: Forest commons in South Asia. Biological Conservation 143(12): 2918-2925.


For more information, please see my Google Scholar Profile and my Researchgate Profile. Please also visit my personal website:


Senior Lecturer at the Department of Urban and Rural Development; Division of Rural Development
Telephone: +4618672270
Postal address:
Inst för stad och land, Box 7012
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, Uppsala