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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Kathleen McGinley

Kathleen McGinley

Research Social Scientist
International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Jardin Botanico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba
c/o 920 Main Campus Drive Suite 300
North Carolina
United States

Phone: 919-513-3331
Contact Kathleen McGinley

Current Research

My current research involves forest and land use governance questions at the local level around El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico; national assessment of the political, legal and institutional framework for supporting forest sustainability at the national level, and the influence, impacts, and causal logics of international instruments aimed at reducing illegal logging and enhancing forest sustainability. Through these and other research projects I focus on (1) developing knowledge of laws, regulations, fiscal instruments, and other legal elements intended to influence forested landscape conditions and human dimensions in the American Tropics; (2) identifying and understanding better the means and mechanisms for implementing natural resource and forest policies and their effectiveness in promoting the long-term sustainability of tropical forest systems; and (3) improving understanding of existing and emerging natural resource and forest governance approaches from local to global levels and their capacity to advance the long-term sustainability of ecological, economic, and social forest values. Given the complex and diverse processes involved in natural resource and forest land use decisions, the scientist works across traditional disciplinary and RWU boundaries and collaborates nationally and internationally with a broad range of social and biological scientists.

Research Interests

I am interested in understanding how institutions encourage, shape, and/or debilitate the promotion of publicly important forest values and goals. The main objectives of the individual’s personal research are to evaluate the legal, political, and governance influences on Neotropical natural resource and forest conservation and management, and to develop and contribute new knowledge on those settings and arrangements that best support the sustainability of the region’s forested landscapes. These elements are crucial to good forest governance in the tropics and around the world, but are often overlooked or underappreciated in resource management decisions and are insufficiently studied and understood at local to global levels.


  • North Carolina State University, Ph.D. Forest Resources Forest Policy 2008
  • CATIE (Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza), M.S. Forest Resources Tropical Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management 2000
  • University of Florida, B.S Forestry Forestry 1996

Professional Experience

  • Research Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    2009 - Current
  • International Cooperation Specialist, USDA Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    2002 - 2008
  • Research Assistant, CATIE (Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza)
    2000 - 2002

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Assessing Forest Sustainability on Islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific

Forests in the U.S. Caribbean and Pacific are relatively stable in terms of total area, but face a number of environmental and human-driven chal ...


Conserving Mangroves in the Context of the Anthropocene

Mangroves of the Anthropocene will be on the move as a result of sea level rise and atmospheric warming as well as human activity and therefore ...


El Yunque National Forest Atlas release

Publication of an atlas about El Yunque National Forest, a collaboration between the International Institute of Tropical Forestry and El Yunque ...


Finding Synergistic Approaches for Complex Forest Issues through Global Forest Governance

Despite significant efforts to develop governmental and nongovernmental institutions to address the world's forest problems, there is a sense th ...


Forest Regulations are Rigorous throughout much of the Americas, but Implementation Remains a Challenge in Latin America

On paper, Latin America is often stricter on forestry than many States in the United States, but lack of enforcement and compliance continue to ...


Making Management More Adaptive Through Research in El Yunque National Forest

Research is an integral part of decision making on the El Yunque National Forest as forest management adopts an adaptive approach to resource pl ...


Policy, Law, and Governance Continue to Evolve to Support Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management in the United States.

Policies, laws, and other institutional factors can provide enabling conditions or barriers to forest sustainability. A recent assessment of th ...


Tracking Trends in the Nation’s Forest Research Capacity

Collaboration and partnerships across public and private sectors are increasingly important as national-level forest research capacity decreases ...


Last updated on : 06/23/2021