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

Research Forester
320 Green Street
United States

Phone: 706-559-4260
Contact John Schelhas

Current Research

African Amerian landowners and forestry. Tribes and forests. Private forest owner decision-making. Social acceptability of bioenergy in the U.S. South.

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 (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 (livelihood, 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).

Past Research

Minority and limited-resource forest landowners in Alabama.
Forest values in Central America.
Forest and land use choice in Central America.



  • 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 and Ecological and Social Science Challenges of Conservation
  • International Policy Specialist, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
    1992 - 1992
    Research, analysis, and writing on forest patches in tropical landscapes.

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 edcuation of Tuskegee University students.

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 : 07/01/2020