Private Forests

Private Forests

Growing populations and burgeoning global economies are creating increased demands for forest products and services, thereby placing intense pressures on the world's forests. It is a considerable challenge to supply the demand for products and services while maintaining healthy, viable forests. Much of the pressure will be on private forests. For example, of the roughly 747 million acres of forest in the United States, almost sixty percent - 430 million acres - is privately owned. These private lands provide the majority of the country's forest products and environmental services. It is estimated that eighty-nine percent of the timber harvested in the United States comes from private lands, an increase from seventy-six percent in the 1970s.


The Program on Private Forests is engaged in education and research on the health and sustainable management of private forestlands. Our mission is to advance the state of knowledge about sustainable forestry on private forestlands at multiple scales and within multiple contexts.

Yale's historic role as a convener of diverse stakeholders and a facilitator and advisor to "unexpected coalitions" makes it a potent advocate and force for sustaining private forests. The Program on Private Forests promotes dialogue and intelligent assessment of issues related to sustainable forestry on private forestlands. Combining the academic and research expertise at Yale with the practical experience of private sector leaders, we work to find innovative ways to bring various stakeholder communities together and move toward a more sustainable future. Through our research, forums and publications, we provide landowners and the public with topical, scientifically-based information so that they can make more informed decisions.

Core Activities

Forest Fragmentation Initiative
Our goals are to research and understand forest fragmentation, including causes and effects and what can be done about it; provide broad access to credible and well-organized information; and bring key stakeholders together to develop realistic solutions to the problems of forest loss and fragmentation.

Eastern Hardwood Forest Research Initiative
In order to advance the understanding and management of hardwood forests in the eastern United States, we are working on collaborative efforts in two areas: southern bottomland hardwoods and eastern upland hardwoods. The goals are to enhance communication and collaboration among hardwood silviculturists to build the scientific knowledge base required to meet the future needs of private landowners focused on forest management in an ever-more complex and challenging environment.

Dynamic Models of Land Use Change
We are developing analytic tools and techniques to assist community leaders, conservation organizations, and citizens understand and predict land use change dynamics, in particular changes in forested lands. The project is being piloted in the northeastern United States.

Forest Health Initiative
Increasingly, our forests are facing stresses of invasive species, wildfires (PDF), disease, pollution and pest outbreaks (PDF). We are engaged in several projects to foster informed dialogue about critical forest health risks, and developing strategies for dealing with those risks.

Private Timberlands: Understanding Changes in Land Tenure
We are exploring changing ownership patterns on industrial timberlands and the implications fo these changes for the conservation of environmental values of forests worldwide.

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