The Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry

Since its founding in 1900, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies has been in the forefront in developing a science-based approach to forest management and in training leaders to face their generation’s challenges to sustaining forests.

The School’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry continues this tradition in its mission to integrate and strengthen the School’s forestry research, education, and outreach to address the needs of the twenty-first century and a globalized environment. The Global Institute fosters leadership through dialogue and innovative programs, creates and tests new tools and methods, and conducts research to support sustainable forest management worldwide.

Forestry at Yale is broadly defined to include all aspects of forest management and conservation. The Global Institute works primarily through faculty-led programs and partnerships with other Yale centers and forestry institutions in the United States and abroad. Students participate as research assistants, interns, and School Forests field crew; are encouraged to take on high levels of leadership in planning activities and events; and regularly contribute to published documents that emerge from program activities.

The Global Institute coordinates the School’s participation in regional, national, and international forestry events such as the Society of American Foresters and IUFRO (International Union of Forest Research Organizations) Conferences and the World Forestry Congresses, and coordinates activities with other institutions throughout the world.

Yale Forest Forum (YFF)

The Yale Forest Forum (YFF) serves as the dialogue and convening function of the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry. YFF was established in 1994 by a diverse group of leaders in forestry to focus national attention on broader public involvement in forest policy and management in the United States. In an attempt to articulate and communicate a common vision of forest management to diverse stakeholders, the first initiative of YFF was to convene the Seventh American Forest Congress (SAFC). After a series of local roundtables, the SAFC culminated in a 1,500-person citizens’ congress in Washington, D.C. The principles discussed during the congress remain part of YFF’s core philosophy of how forest policy discussions should take place: “collaboratively, based on the widest possible involvement of stakeholders.”

YFF’s activities are centered on bringing individuals together for open public dialogues to share experiences, explore emerging issues, and debate varying opinions constructively. In that light YFF sponsors issues forums and leadership seminars throughout the academic year. YFF forums and seminars not only focus on emerging issues in forest management, they also give students exposure to leaders in the NGO, industry, landowner, and government sectors in forest conservation and sustainable forestry. They provide an opportunity for diverse parties to meet and exchange ideas and have led to ongoing dialogue concerning forestry problems and solutions. YFF publishes the YFF Review to disseminate to a wide audience the outcomes and lessons learned from its work.

Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative

The Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative (UHPSI) fosters land stewardship and conservation in the American West through teaching, research, and outreach. This is primarily achieved through mentoring students on applied research and management projects in collaboration with Western partners. Research and management projects are diverse and interdisciplinary, and address Western conservation challenges. Our broad network of more than fifty partners comprises ranchers, nonprofits, federal and state agencies, and academics. Students engaged with UHPSI develop knowledge and skills in Western issues and natural resource management on private and public lands through our collaborative, experiential-learning framework.

For more information about UHPSI, visit

Program on Landscape Management

Ecosystems can be defined at a variety of scales—a stand, a landscape, a region, a continent. At all scales, they are dynamic, constantly changing from one condition to another. Ecosystems contain forests and other resources that interact both competitively and synergistically. Managing ecosystems requires an understanding and appreciation of the biological, social, and economic dynamics of ecosystems.

Experience in forest management has shown that managing at small scales is difficult, because many different values need to be provided. Consequently, diverse conditions need to be coordinated across the landscape. This is the basis of the landscape approach to forest and other resource management.

The Program on Landscape Management works cooperatively with other organizations throughout the world. It develops the scientific basis, concepts, and tools needed to help people provide a wide range of resource values, including commodities, wildlife habitat, fire safety, employment, and carbon sequestration.

The program applies local knowledge, science, and technical tools to achieve practical results (see D.E. Stokes, Pasteur’s Quadrant, Brookings Institution Press, 1997). Ongoing projects include developing open-source, online access software that allows landowners throughout the world to manage forests sustainably and to demonstrate that their forests are sustainable with regard to sustainable development goals (SDGs); this project builds on the Landscape Management System (see and is cooperative among the General Directorate of Forestry of Turkey, the United Nations Development Programme, Yale Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, and the University of Washington College of the Environment. Another ongoing project is examining the potential of expanded wood use to substitute for steel and brick construction, and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Recently completed projects include developing a sustained harvest level for Connecticut state forests; mitigating the wildfire danger in the irradiated forests around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Ukraine; developing ways to increase habitats for the Amur (Siberian) tiger in northeastern China; and developing a decision tool for conversion between agriculture and forest land in Mississippi.

Sustaining Family Forests Initiative

The Sustaining Family Forests Initiative (SFFI) is a collaboration among the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Center for Nonprofit Strategies, aimed at gaining and disseminating comprehensive knowledge about family forest owners throughout the United States. SFFI conducts research on U.S. family forest owners and has developed a practical set of tools to help conservation and forestry professionals reach these landowners with effective stewardship messages and to develop programs that serve the needs and values of the landowners. The basis of SFFI’s work is to apply a social marketing approach—the use of commercial marketing techniques to affect positive social change—as a promising means by which to influence family forest owners to take steps to conserve and sustainably manage their land. Since 2010 SFFI has trained more than twelve hundred natural resource professionals in landowner outreach. These professionals work in thirty-five states and represent more than 350 organizations, primarily state forestry agencies and their conservation and stewardship partners. More information about SFFI is available at