Photo of John Schelhas

John Schelhas

Research Forester
320 Green Street
Athen, GA 30602
Phone: 706-559-4260

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 natural resource use and conservation:

Environmental values. Land use choice. Social networks. Race/ethnicity.


Natural resource management and policy:

Land use and sustainable development. National parks and protected areas.

Forests on private lands. Participation, collaboration, and community-based approaches.

Interdisciplinary research. Relationships between research and practice.
Biofuels. Tourism and pilgrimage. Tribes and forest management.

Past Research

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



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

Professional Experience

Research Forester, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA
Research Forester, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Tuskegee University, AL
Research Associate and Senior Research Associate, Deptartment of Natural Resources, Cornell University

Coordinated NSF Research Training Grant, Cornell Program and Ecological and Social Science Challenges of Conservation

Awards and 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.
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 and Products


Research Highlights

Engaging African American Forest Owners in Sustainable Forest Management (2016)
SRS-2016-272 Baseline research was conducted in three southern U.S. states for a community- based outreach program: the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program. Research found that African American landowners placed a high value on their land because of links to family history and struggles to obtain it; yet land ownership was precarious, and few land ownerships were generating economic returns. Although past engagement in forestry was limited, forestry can be an attractive future option if barriers to technical and financial assistance are addressed.

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Priority Areas
SRS Science Area
External Resources
  • Natural Inquirer logo Natural Inquirer
  • The sites listed below are third-party sites which the Forest Service has provided for reference only.