The Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment

The Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment is the oldest continuous professional graduate forestry school in the nation. For over 120 years, Yale’s forestry program has been at the forefront of developing approaches to the practice of forestry, generating knowledge about forests, and promoting the values forests bring to people’s livelihoods and well-being. 

Forestry has been at the heart of the School since its inception in 1900, when it was founded as The Yale Forest School by Gifford Pinchot and Henry S. Graves, with founding gifts from both individuals and the Pinchot family. From the beginning, The Yale Forest School has found its home in Marsh Hall at the top of Science Hill. During its first four decades, the School graduated the first four chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service; created the first field experience for incoming students (MODs) at Grey Towers, the Pinchot family home in Milford, Pennsylvania; and was gifted its first research and demonstration forest in 1908, which now comprises six forests that cover over 11,000 acres combined. In 1921, the School changed its name to the Yale School of Forestry, a name that changed again in 1972 to the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. In July 2020, the name changed to the Yale School of the Environment; at the same time, the School established The Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment in recognition of the School’s founding mission and the continued importance of forestry.

Vision and Mission

After its establishment, The Forest School approved its Vision and Mission to guide the School into the future. 

Vision

We seek to lead in advancing science and educating professionals to develop collaborative research, policy, and practice that address vital and compelling issues facing forests and people globally. We strive to do so justly and equitably, elevating a diversity of voices, and in respectful relationships with the land and one another.

Mission

Rooted in place-based experiential learning and rigorous research, The Forest School within the Yale School of the Environment educates scientists and practitioners to apply forest ecology and social dynamics in their work around the globe. We are a hub for connecting forests and people across disciplines, cultivating collaborations, initiatives, and research that underscore the importance of forests within the broader environmental field. As a school community, we train leaders in the field to be systems thinkers with dynamic and adaptive expertise, developing sustainable solutions for the critical challenges of our time.


The Forest School is guided by two bodies. The Management Team is composed of core staff and faculty, as well as leaders from affiliated YSE centers, programs, and initiatives. These individuals are committed to setting up processes for The Forest School, managing the forestry curriculum, collectively enacting the vision and mission, and strategic decision-making regarding academics, research, centers, programs, and initiatives, and programming and initiatives of the School.

The Governance Group provides guidance and advice into the strategic actions and goals of The Forest School. Members of the Management Team sit on the Governance Group, in addition to broader YSE faculty and representatives from key YSE Offices including Academic Affairs, Admissions, Career Development, Communications, the Dean’s Office, Development and Alumni Services, and Strategic Initiatives.

Forest-related Education and YSE Community Engagement

The Forest School has a dedicated core faculty, including twelve endowed professorships committed to forestry in perpetuity. TFS also prescribes the curricula of the forestry degrees granted by YSE, including a Master of Forestry (MF), which is accredited by the Society of American Foresters and is intended for students wishing to pursue professional careers in the management and policy of forest resources, and a Master of Forest Science (MFS), which is designed for students wishing to conduct scientific research that contributes toward basic and applied knowledge. Doctoral degrees are managed by YSE, though doctoral students work with TFS-related faculty on cutting-edge forest related research in a five-year, fully funded program.

Our education and training activities are rooted in place-based knowledge of the U.S. Northeast – centering applied forest ecology and social sciences – with a global scope spanning a spectrum of forest landscapes and societies. The Forest School offers numerous experiential learning opportunities for students, including field trips, stakeholder and community engagement, on-the-ground research at multiple local and international sites, and a summer forest apprenticeship. The summer apprenticeship, known as Forest Crew, is a twelve-week program held each summer at Yale-Myers Forest that trains students in forest management and land stewardship. TFS also offers an urban apprenticeship program through the Urban Resources Initiative’s GreenSkills program where students help plant trees and care for New Haven’s urban forests.

TFS also manages Yale Forests, which are used for teaching and training. Yale Forests cover nearly 11,000 acres in seven separate forests across New England, providing educational and research opportunities focusing on science-based management to promote ecological regeneration. At 7,840 acres, Yale-Myers is the largest of the seven School-managed forests and the single largest piece of property used for educational purposes by Yale University.

TFS also serves as a hub for researchers and practitioners in forest-related fields worldwide, bringing together the best science and practices to find solutions to the challenges that face the world’s forests and people today. The School’s cross-disciplinary research informs the practices and solutions collaboratively developed for students, faculty, and centers, programs, and initiatives. Programs for practitioners, land stewards, and YSE students are offered through the centers, programs, and initiatives that call The Forest School home, including the Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative (ELTI), The Forests Dialogue (TFD), Tropical Resources Institute (TRI), Urban Resources Initiative (URI), and Yale Applied Science Synthesis Program (YASSP). 

The Yale Forest Forum

The Yale Forest Forum (YFF), founded in 1994, is the convening body and the events hub of The Forest School serving as an outreach arm to the world. YFF serves as a forum for engagement, learning, and discussion on the most pressing topics and challenges related to forests and forest landscapes today. This past year alone, YFF has hosted the largest virtual events in Yale’s history; in collaboration with Orion Magazine, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, and Yale Environmental Humanities, TFS hosted a three-part author speaker series exploring environmental humanities, nature writing, and human relationships with forests. 

The YFF guest speaker series is the longest continuously running speaker series at the Yale School of the Environment. Participants come from a wide range of organizations and perspectives, including government, NGOs and businesses, working at scales from local to international. YFF has transformed the speaker series into semester-long themed webinars that are accessible to all; this past year’s topics included: Theory to Practice of Urban Forest Management; The Future of Forest Products in a Changing Climate: Bioenergy from Forests; and The Future of Wood Building Products in a Changing Climate. Next fall, YFF will host two webinar series on planted forests and carbon credits. Learnings from these series are published in the YFF Review.

Student Interest Groups

Student Interest Groups (SIGs) also have long history and relationship with The Forest School. Yale's chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters was first founded in 1989 as part of a global network of forestry and natural resource practitioners and professionals focused in the tropics. Highlighting the intersectionality of tropical forestry, students across disciplines, programs, and degrees participate in the group. Yale ISTF is best known for its annual conference, which is the longest running student-organized conference at Yale. This past year, the ISTF conference was held online, themed Rethinking Restoration and Recovery: Landscapes of the Past, Present, and Future in the Tropics. Yale ISTF has also served as a hub for the global ISTF network, which dissolved in the 1990s but is now reforming in part based on the Yale chapter's enduring model. The Yale Temperate Foresters (YTF) includes Yale student members of the Society of American Foresters, the Forest Stewards Guild, and other professional associations focused on North America's temperate forests. YTF serves as a hub for forest-focused students, with longstanding traditions of attending the Society of American Foresters annual national convention, holiday tree harvesting from Yale-Myers Forest, and social events. 

Other affiliated YSE centers, programs, and initiatives include:

Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative Born out of The Forest School, ELTI empowers people to design and implement land use practices that conserve and restore tropical forests and native tree cover in human-dominated landscapes.

Forest Fellows Program The Forest School is home to a cohort of postgraduate forestry students who continue their learning and training through short-term fellowships and receive mentorship from staff and faculty. This program further allows graduates to refine their skills and enter the job market with enhanced experience. 

The Forests Dialogue TFD provides international leaders in the forest sector with an ongoing, multi-stakeholder dialogue platform and process focused on developing mutual trust, shared understanding, and collaborative solutions for sustainable forest management and conservation. 

Tropical Resources Institute TRI supports interdisciplinary, problem-oriented masters and doctoral student research on the most complex challenges confronting the conservation and management of tropical environments and natural resources worldwide. 

Urban Resources Initiative Recognized for tree planting and greenspace restoration, URI is a nonprofit and a program of The Forest School dedicated to community forestry, environmental education, and training and capacity building activities in New Haven. 

Yale Applied Science Synthesis Program Centered on generating science to support decision making, YASSP is a new program that produces quantitative, reputable, scientific syntheses that guide and inform land management for pragmatic stewardship of forest and agricultural lands. 

Yale Forests Yale Forests is The Forest School’s home for teaching, learning, and researching in the field. The Yale Forests cover nearly 11,000 acres in 7 forests across the U.S. Northeast. In addition to providing educational and research opportunities, we use science-based management to promote the ecological regeneration of the areas of the forests that are harvested for timber to balance conservation, research, and harvesting goals over the long-term. Special programs of Yale Forests include the Quiet Corner Initiative, Maple Education & Extension Program, and Northeast Forest Farmers Coalition.