US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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John Parrotta

John A. Parrotta

Program Leader, International Forest Science Issues
1400 Independence Ave., SW
District of Columbia
United States

Fax: 202-205-1530
Contact John A. Parrotta

Curriculum vitae (283 KB PDF)

Current Research

  • Interdisciplinary approaches to forest landscape restoration.
  • Traditional forest-related knowledge and practices.
  • Relationship between forest management, biodiversity and climate change mitigation.
  • The role of forests in food security and nutrition.

Research Interests

Traditional forest-related knowledge; forest ecosystem restoration in the tropics; impacts of reforestation and afforestation on biodiversity at site and landscape scales; and forests and human health.

Past Research

Tropical forest ecology; tropical silviculture; tropical forest restoration; and ecology and management of medicinal plant resources.

Why This Research is Important

The conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the world's forests requires a broad perspective that integrates our understanding of the structure and function of both natural and planted forests, and how both land and forest management and the multiple stressors affecting forest ecosystems affect their capacity to conserve biodiversity and provide ecosystem services. Enhancing our understanding of these relationships -- and developing options for improved forest stewardship for environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits -- requires not only the best use of forest science, but also the traditional forest-related knowledge developed over generations within indigenous and local communities. Effectively communicating this knowledge to decision makers at all levels, including citizens, land managers and policy-makers, in ways that are relevant and meaningful to people in diverse circumstances, is a critical task that my research and related science synthesis work seeks to advance.


  • Yale University, Ph.D. Tropical forest ecology and management 1987
  • Yale University, M.S. Forestry and Environmental Studies 1983
  • University of Aberdeen (UK), M.Sc. Ecology 1981
  • Merrimack College, B.A. Biology 1980
  • Merrimack College, B.S. Chemistry 1980

Professional Experience

  • National Research Program Leader, International Science Issues, US Forest Service, Research & Development, Washington, DC
    2000 - Current
    As National Research Program Leader for International Science Issues, I provide scientific advice to the Agency, Department, and other federal agencies to develop U.S. policy positions in international forest policy forums. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and other international programs and initiatives related to forest science and sustainable forest management worldwide. A significant part of my work is conducted in collaboration with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (see Professional Organizations, below). I have also served as a member of several international scientific panels, including as a coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ thematic assessment on Land Degradation and Restoration (2016-2018), and expert panels convened by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) to develop guidelines for management of degraded and secondary tropical forests (2002), conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in tropical production forests (2007), revision of the ITTO criteria and indicators for sustainable management of forests in tropical landscapes, and guidelines for the restoration of tropical forest landscapes (2018-2019). I currently serve on the editorial boards of several professional journals, including Restoration Ecology, Forest Ecology and Management, and Ecosystems and People. I am the author of several books, a number of peer-review journal volumes, and over 160 other research publications.
  • Research Forester and Team Leader, USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    1991 - 2001
    During my years as a research scientist at IITF, my work focused on tropical forest restoration, ecological dynamics of plantations and other managed forest systems, tropical silvics, tropical forest floristics and phenology, and non-wood tropical forest products (medicinal plants) in Puerto Rico, Brazil (Amazon and Atlantic forest regions), and India.

Professional Organizations

  • International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) (1993 - Current)
    I have been active in IUFRO since 1993, when I initiated a Division 1 Working Party on tropical forest restoration. Since that time I have served in a many IUFRO positions, including Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator of Division 1 (Silviculture), Deputy Coordinator of Division 8 (Forest Environment), Chair of the 2010 and 2014 World Congress Scientific Committees, Coordinator of IUFRO’s Task Force on Traditional Forest Knowledge (2005-2010), Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests’ Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Biodiversity, Forest Management, and REDD+ (2012) and member of two other GFEP panels (on adaptation of forests and people to climate change (2009) and forests, food security and nutrition (2015). I've been a member of the IUFRO Management Committee since 2006, and currently serve as Vice-President for Task Forces, Special Programmes, Projects and IUFRO-led Initiatives. Starting in October 2019, I will begin a 5-year term as IUFRO President.

Awards & Recognition

  • U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environment. Group Superior Honor Award, 2012
    "For extraordinary efforts to advance and protect U.S. interests during the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity which furthered efforts to promote the conservation of biological diversity worldwide".
  • U.S. Department of State. Meritorious Honor Award , 2011
    “For extraordinary efforts to advance U.S. interests during the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and further the conservation of biological diversity worldwide”.
  • International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) Distinguished Service Award (2010),, 2010
    “In recognition of achievements for strengthening IUFRO’s activities on traditional forest knowledge and providing outstanding services as Chair of the IUFRO World Congress 2010 Scientific Committee”.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Group Honor Award for Excellence, 2004
    “For outstanding management and logistical oversight of the complex, high profile and politically sensitive task of implementing a global-scale ministerial conference on agricultural science and technology.”
  • U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental Affairs Group Meritoriou, 2004
    “For extraordinary efforts to advance U.S. interests during the 7th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and further the conservation of biological diversity worldwide.”

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Last updated on : 12/11/2019