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

John Schelhas

Project Leader/Research Forester
320 Green Street
United States

Phone: 706-559-4260
Contact John Schelhas

Research Interests

Social and cultural dimensions of forest use and conservation:

My interest is in the relationships between people and forests, with research focusing on several areas: (1) cultural models and imaginaries of forests; (2) land use choice, landscape restoration, and biodiversity conservation; (3) marginalized and minority forest owners; (4) collaboration and community-based approaches; and (5) cultural and sacred aspects of forests. My work seeks to integrate social science theory and natural resource management, and prioritizes fieldwork and qualitative analysis. I have worked in contexts such as protected areas (neighbors and users), private forest management (livelihoods, conservation, and ownership), forest threats (invasive plants, insect pests), climate change (narratives, social vulnerability), sustainability (landscapes, bioenergy), and tribes and indigenous people (use and management of culturally important forest products).


  • University of Arizona, Ph.D. Renewable Natural Resources. Anthropology 1991
  • University of Arizona, M.S. Watershed Management 1979
  • University of Michigan, B.S. Natural Resources 1977

Professional Experience

  • Research Forester, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA
    2010 - Current
  • Research Forester, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Tuskegee University, AL
    1999 - 2010
  • Research Associate and Senior Research Associate, Deptartment of Natural Resources, Cornell University
    1992 - 1999
    Coordinated NSF Research Training Grant, Cornell Program in Ecological and Social Science Challenges of Conservation
  • International Policy Specialist, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Washington, DC
    1992 - 1992
  • International Cooperation Specialist, National Park Service, Washington, DC
    1986 - 1987
  • Trail Worker, National Park Service, Yosemite National Park, CA
    1974 - 1985
  • Volunteer, Conservation of Natural Resources, Peace Corps, Guatemala
    1980 - 1982

Awards & Recognition

  • Director's Partnership Award, Southern Research Station, 2019
    For innovative efforts in establishing a partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which resulted in improved and integrated management of culturally important forest products for the Eastern Band.
  • Regional Forester Award, Southern Region, 2019
    Delivering State and Private Forestry Programs Group Award for contribution to the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program.
  • Visiting Tribal Heritage Scholar, Grey Towers, Milford, PA, 2017
  • Director’s Multicultural Organization Award, Southern Research Station, 2010
    For significant contributions to the Agency's ability to meet the needs of minority and limited-resource forest landowners, and for outreach and education of Tuskegee University students.
  • Fellow, Society for Applied Anthropology, 2002

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Engaging African American Forest Owners in Sustainable Forest Management

Baseline research was conducted in three southern U.S. states for a community- based outreach program: the Sustainable Forestry and African Amer ...


Strategies for Successful Engagement of African American Landowners in Forestry

Following four years of operation of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program, USDA Forest Service scientists at the ...


Last updated on : 08/31/2021