About SFFI

Marsh Hall, Home of SFFI

Family Forests are perhaps the last frontier in which to implement long-term sustainability concepts, and they are the forests most at risk of being fragmented and converted for development. Decisions made by large numbers of small private landowners collectively enhance or degrade the landscape. How they manage their forests and whether or not they convert them to other uses is of significant public interest.   

Roughly a third of all forestland in the U.S. is owned by private individuals or families. America’s family forest owners are a diverse mix of people who have many and varied reasons for owning land. They include rugged timber men, country folk, urbanites, farmers, environmentalists, avid hunters, overworked professionals, and a host of others. To help make sense of these differences, the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative has developed a practical set of tools to help conservation and forestry professionals reach these landowners with effective stewardship messages and develop programs that serve the needs and values of the landowners.

The basis of our work is to apply a social marketing approach—the use of commercial marketing techniques to affect positive social change—as a promising means by which to influence family forest owners to take steps to conserve and sustainably manage their land. We take advantage of the wealth of data collected via the USDA Forest Service’s National Woodland Owners Survey to determine specific landowner concerns and their reasons for managing forestland.

Lead Project Sponsor: 
USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry 

Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation
USDA Forest Service, Family Forest Research Center
USDA Forest Service, Cooperative Forestry
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry