The opening 45 minutes saw little goalmouth action at either end as both sides failed to find any real rhythm.
Forest came out firing at the start of the second half and Dexter Blackstock came close to notching the opener in the 54th minute when his drilled shot ricocheted off the crossbar.
Blackstock wasn't to be denied for long, however, as the forward found the top corner from close range three minutes later.
Veteran midfielder Andy Reid almost made it two soon after but the Irishman's free-kick effort was denied by Scott Davies in the Fleetwood goal.
The victory is a positive start for Sean O'Driscoll, who was in charge of his first competitive game at Forest.