The historical appropriation of forests by state and non-local agencies in many countries has led to loss of local rights and land tenure insecurity as well as forest degradation and loss due to timber extraction and land use conversion. Past forest restoration programmes have had equally adverse outcomes for local people due to the non-participatory nature of the interventions. Reforestation is not merely a local and physical intervention; it is often tied to larger political economic contexts and drivers operating at national and international scales. The case of CAMPA in India, and REDD+ in a number of other countries, shows that the marginalization of local people, and particularly of disadvantaged members of society, including women, by more powerful actors is due to differing interests and motivations. Forest landscape restoration has the potential to exacerbate existing inequalities unless these power dynamics are acknowledged and dealt with appropriately. A political ecology approach is suggested as a means to better understand and deal with these challenges.